Foundation courses: a pathway into university for international students
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Foundation courses: a pathway into university for international students

Foundation courses help international students who may not initially meet entry requirements gain entry to undergraduate study at Australian universities and colleges. They also help students adapt to the Australian academic environment and life in Australia. Foundation courses allow students to acquire the skills they need to take the next step forward in their academic and professional careers, where some foundation courses even promise a place at university after successful completion of the course.


Foundation courses are typically intensive one-year preparatory courses, but this timeframe can sometimes be altered according to the student’s needs. Students capable of accelerated learning may be able to complete programs in nine months. Other courses may be lengthened to allow students more time to prepare for their university courses. Some foundation courses have a flexible structure that allows students to enter at different times during the year and at different standards of English language or academic competency. Foundation courses are generally divided into subject streams, such as business or science studies, according to the student’s choice of undergraduate course. Most foundation courses offer a range of compulsory and elective subjects, and English language support is often a major focus.


Schools, Vocational Education and Training (VET) institutions, Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges and universities all commonly offer foundation courses to international students – compare different institutions here. Many universities and some other institutions also offer ‘bridging’ courses, which are shorter, more intensive courses designed for students who are about to enter a degree course but do not meet the assumed knowledge requirements or who wish to be better prepared for university study.