Foundation Programs

Foundation programs (also known as Foundation Years or University Preparation courses) take many forms but they offer an alternative means for international students to access post-school institutions. They are most commonly used as a pathway for students who do not meet the entry requirements of an undergraduate Bachelor degree program. Such programs are offered by institutions in the School, VET, ELICOS and Higher Education sectors.

More specifically, Foundation programs tend to:

  • contain academic based subjects,
  • focus on English language development,
  • have minimum entry requirements of successful completion of year 11 (or equivalent) and an of IELTS score of 5.5 (or equivalent scores of other acceptable language tests like TOEFL, Cambridge CAE or PTE),
  • be of a comparable academic standard to an Australian year 12 secondary school qualification,
  • be normally one academic year in length,
  • often guarantee entry to a particular university course if the student meets the required standards,
  • not offer credit in the subsequent program of study

Some foundation programs are shorter than one year (commonly called ‘express’ or ‘accelerated’ programs) and are typically offered to students who have completed year 12 and have an IELTS score of 6.0 (or equivalent scores of TOEFL, CAE, PTE or other ways of satisfying the provider).

Some foundation programs allow students to undertake a longer program than normal with extra English language development. These are often called ‘extended’ programs and are for students who have a lower English level (typically IELTS 5.0, TOEFL Paper 500, TOEFL iBT 64 or TOEFL Computer 180).

Recognition of Foundation programs

The recognition of a foundation program by universities can vary greatly. Many universities guarantee entry to students undertaking their endorsed program but only recognise other foundation programs on a case-by-case basis.

Generally, the Group of 8 foundation programs are more widely accepted and are likely to provide entry into most Australian universities. However, other programs may have difficulty in providing entry into the GO8 Universities, except for their highest achieving students.

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