International College
Student pathways to The University of Sheffield

How to access higher education in the UK

Posted 30 July 2015
Sheffield international college facilities

Working out the best options for study in the UK can be a daunting task for many international students. With so many options available, it can seem difficult to choose the right one for your needs and aspirations.

There are a number of different ways for international students to access higher education courses in the UK. Which option you choose depends on whether you are an undergraduate or postgraduate candidate as well as your English language ability.

Undergraduate studies for international students

The International Foundation Year Course is an excellent route into higher education in the UK for undergraduates. These one-year academic courses are focused on ensuring that international students have all of the research and study capabilities they need to pursue an undergraduate degree with confidence. 

Courses on academic writing, lab skills and critical reading are combined with modules focused on the student’s chosen area of study, to ensure that everything learned is relevant. These courses are focused on giving international students the extra boost they need to excel and helping iron out any differences between their existing study habits and those needed for the course they want to study.

The University of Sheffield International College offers one of the UK’s most highly regarded International Foundation Year Programmes. On successful completion, it provides students with guaranteed entry into a wide range of courses in Science, Engineering, Social Sciences, Business and Law.

Postgraduate studies for international students

For those who have already completed their undergraduate studies elsewhere, Pre-Masters courses provide an entry route into Masters programmes in the UK.  Similar to the Foundation Year courses, Pre-Masters are aimed at helping equip students with everything they need to complete their Masters with confidence, but with the added depth and flexibility required by students about to enter the more independent world of postgraduate study.

As well as helping students develop their English Language, critical reading and research skills, Pre-Masters programmes provide an opportunity to take modules related to your chosen Masters subject, and even complete an introductory research project. This is an excellent way to improve your skills and ensure strong results.

At The University of Sheffield International College, Pre-Masters courses are offered in streams, allowing students to choose the study path that is right for them and ensure they learn the appropriate research skills before moving on to a guaranteed place on a taught Masters course. For example, students in the Social Sciences Pre-Masters stream will learn about project design and critical reading, while those who choose Science and Engineering will be coached in lab skills and Mathematics.

English Language Preparation courses

Getting the most out of higher education in the UK requires a high level of ability in English. Many universities give students the opportunity to make sure they reach this level by taking an English Language Preparation Course. These courses can run over one term or several. They are high-quality programmes designed to help International Students fill in any language gaps before beginning a challenging academic course.

At some universities, having a certified level of English is often an entry requirement, so it’s worth checking whether this applies to your chosen course before you apply.

Making your choice

If you’re interested in following one of these routes into higher education in the UK, the first step is to research the courses on offer to find the one that best suits your goals for the future. Areas to consider include the quality of the course, how well it meets your academic needs, and how much support the university offers to international students. Examining the entry requirements and matching them to your current skills will help you work out whether or not you should consider a preparation course or leap straight in, allowing you to lay the best foundation for success. 

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