Leading foundation programs for Asian students
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Leading foundation programs for Asian students

Over the past few years, the UK has seen a significant increase in international enrolment to its higher education programs, and many of these new students hail from Asia. According to recent figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the number of students applying to UK universities in recent years from India and China has increased 19 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

However, international students with their sights set on a UK degree course have a few additional considerations to take into account. Academic entrance requirements are strict, and competition is fierce. On top of this, in order to qualify for university programs in the UK, most international students need to complete additional coursework.

To this end, leading UK universities offer foundation year programs. These serve as a bridge to full-time degree programs, equipping students with the academic skills and credentials they need to thrive at a modern university in the UK. In the process, students also sharpen their English language skills and develop stronger study habits.

Academic structure in the UK

One of the reasons that a foundation year is necessary for university-bound students in the UK has to do with the way the local academic path is structured. In many countries, students proceed to university after completing 12 years of primary and secondary education. In the UK, a 13th year of education follows, which most international students will not have completed. The 13th year of study is known as sixth form. During this year, university-bound students prepare for their A-level examinations, which are a requirement for university acceptance.


Durham Cathedral near Durham University

But for many international students, attending a foundation year is about more than a ticking off the boxes and completing the necessary coursework. Programs like this also give students a competitive edge when they launch into their full-time degree program. During a foundation year, students acclimate to academic culture in the UK. Upon starting their first year of university, they’re ready to hit the ground running.

Selecting the right foundation program

The sheer number of students interested in earning a degree in the UK has paved the way for a variety of foundation programs. Choosing the right program can be a daunting task. Some are hosted directly through a parent university – in which case graduates of the program will be specifically prepared to continue education at the university. These programs usually advertise guaranteed admittance to the parent university so long as certain performance benchmarks are met. Independent programs are also in operation. These may have strong ties to certain universities, as well.


The University of Derby

Bear in mind that most foundation programs do not offer a one-size-fits-all approach to university preparation. Specific courses are customized to a particular field of study. With that in mind, international students are advised to consider both the university where they would to earn their degree and the subject in which they would like to specialize.

With that in mind, the following are among the leading foundation year programs in the UK:


The University of Derby is a modern, innovative education provider that achieved its university status in 1992, although teaching at the main Derby site actually dates back to 1851. Located in England’s East Midlands region, the University of Derby is a rising star in international higher education, with some of its undergraduate degree courses ranked in the top 10. Read the full profile here…


Durham University is the third-oldest university in England. Strong rankings and an excellent international reputation for research make it a leading candidate for students from Asia. Courses offered through the university’s Foundation Centre take one year to complete and specifically prepare students to continue with a degree programme at Durham University. Read the full profile here…


The International Foundation Programme at Cardiff University provides students from Asia with the support, skills and qualifications needed to gain acceptance into leading degree programs. Specialized support is provided in one of three study areas: Engineering, Business or Health and Life Sciences.


The International Foundation Year (IFY) at the University of Leeds provides entry to level 1 of the university’s undergraduate degree programs. The IFY requires that students choose a specialization, such that this introductory year integrates seamlessly with their degree area. Programs are currently available in the Arts, Business, Engineering, Design and Science.


York College provides a comprehensive set of further education opportunities, including and International Foundation Programme (IFP), more than 40 A-level subjects and a variety of vocational programs. The IFP operates through a partnership with the University of York and offers specializations in Business, Social Sciences, Creative Media and Science.