International College

What is it like to study a Foundation course abroad?

Posted 03 February 2015
Students walking through the University campus

What is a foundation course?

Foundation courses are designed to help you improve your English language and study skills before you go on to university. These programmes can be studied in your own home country, or in the UK. Foundation courses are often run by UK universities themselves or by specialist colleges that work hand-in-hand with universities.

For example, the University of Sheffield International College works closely with the University of Sheffield to offer foundation courses on campus that focus on improving academic English language skills, offering an introduction to your chosen subject and providing a preparatory experience that ensures that you are university- ready.

These foundation courses help to bridge any gaps between the international qualifications of overseas students, and the qualifications that the University of Sheffield requires. Successful completion of the course means that international students can then enter the first year of a related undergraduate degree at the University of Sheffield.

What is it like to take part in a foundation programme abroad?

Studying a foundation course abroad at the institution you want to gain your degree from has major advantages:

1. You’ll develop your language skills faster

You’ll not only be studying in English, you’ll be living in an English-speaking country. There’s no faster way to improve your language skills and ensure that you’re ready for the language skill demands of a UK degree programme. With students from around the world studying in Sheffield, the language everyone has in common is English.

2. You’ll be included in university life from day one

Studying at an institution like the University of Sheffield International College means you’ll be closely linked to the University of Sheffield itself. You’ll be taught by some of the same teaching staff, study on the University campus and have full access to all the opportunities, support and facilities on offer at the University. This helps you adapt to student life, ensuring that the shift from foundation course to degree programme is easy.

3. You’ll enjoy fully integrated study 

Your foundation course will be fully integrated into your chosen degree subject, so the topics you cover during the foundation programme are perfectly matched to subsequent stages of your course.

4. You’ll explore new cultures

Taking your foundation studies abroad rather than studying at home gives you the opportunity to experience a whole new culture. You’ll not only be able to immerse yourself in the culture of the UK, but you’ll meet friends of all nationalities on your course. A major part of your development as a student lies in learning about the day-to-day lives of the people you live and study with. 

As well as helping to broaden your outlook and experiences, developing an understanding of new cultures can help your career post-graduation. In the increasingly multinational workplace, employers value candidates who have multicultural and multilingual experience.

5. You’ll grow as a person

Confidence, responsibility, strength of character, communication skills, self-reliance – these are all qualities that you’ll naturally build upon when you study for a foundation course abroad. Studying in a whole new country can be one of the most challenging adjustments you’ll ever make, but once you get there you’ll see just how much you can accomplish when you set your mind to it.

The more you immerse yourself in the experience – getting involved in a variety of university clubs, meeting people from around the world – the more you’ll get out of it. Your growth as a person is about more than just academic improvement and studying abroad is a great sure-fire way to becoming the person you really want to be.

Find out more about starting your studies or check the latest COVID-19 information.