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Pathways to university programmes

Pathway programmes are designed to help prepare you for higher education studies and degrees. They are useful if you did not meet the admission requirements for your chosen course, do not have the required language skills, or have changed your mind about what you would like to study.

Pathway courses are offered by different types of bodies. You could take a programme at your chosen institution if one is available. They are also offered by partner universities and education companies, such as ONCAMPUS Global, Kaplan International, INTO University Partnerships, and Navitas, among many others.

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Highlighted pathway courses from universities worldwide

There are hundreds of pathway courses from around the world available to browse on

Applied Bioscience FdSc

University of Kent United Kingdom

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Sports Coaching (wFY) BSc (Hons), Foundation

Hartpury University United Kingdom

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Business Bridging Program Foundation

EU Business School, Barcelona Spain

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International Foundation Year Program Access, Foundation Degree, UG:Foundation

The Italian Academy Italy

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English Foundation Program Foundation

EU Business School, Munich Germany

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Professional Studies (Early Childhood) FdA

Bishop Grosseteste University United Kingdom

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Business Bridging Program Foundation

EU Business School, Geneva Switzerland

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Nursing Associate (direct entry) FdSc

University of Derby United Kingdom

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What kind of pathway courses can I study?

Pathways come in several different forms, each tailored to different types of students. There are specific pathway courses, and these tend to be designed for particular undergraduate degree courses. There are also foundation courses, which are perfect if you wish to study an undergraduate degree but did not meet the entry requirements. Although the terms pathway programmes and foundation programmes can sometimes be used in reference to the same thing, there is usually a difference. Foundation programmes can be studied as a stand alone degree, and you do not need to top them up if you do not wish. A pathway programme cannot be studied as a stand alone degree, and are created specifically to lead you onto a degree programme.

If you are wishing to study a postgraduate degree but do not meet the entry requirements, you may wish to explore the pre-masters options that are available to you. A pre-masters programme is useful for students who studied one subject at undergraduate and now wish to change their course with a postgraduate degree. Sometimes masters degree will require you to have studied a certain subject to make sure you will be able to keep up with the higher level of course content. If you have not studied one of these subjects, but still wish to do the specific masters degree, taking a pre-masters can allow you to meet the requirements in a shorter amount of time. A pre-masters is also helpful for students whose undergraduate degree results do not meet the entry requirements for their chosen masters degree.

There are also preparation courses that are perfect if you do not meet the English language requirements for your chosen degree. If English is not your first language, or your previous studies were not in English, you may be asked to provide evidence of your English language proficiency. Having a good standard of English will allow you to fully understand and engage in your degree, as well as increasing your chance of gaining high grades in assessments. If you do not meet the language requirements for your course, your institution may offer you the chance to take a short preparation course that will focus on improving your language skills prior to the start of your studies. These can be offered as stand alone programmes, or as a combination with a pre-masters or pathways programme.

Why should I consider a pathway programme?

Choosing a pathway programme can have an influence on the success and enjoyment of your degree. If you start your degree under-prepared, this can lead to you struggling to progress, as well as affecting your enjoyment. Pathway programmes can offer students, particularly international students, extra time to acclimatise to higher education.

As well as allowing you extra time to meet entry requirements, pathway courses can also offer the chance for students to develop their study skills, as higher education is demanding. Depending on your home country and where you choose to study, taking a pathway programme may allow you to familiarise yourself with the education system works in a different country, leading you be more successful in your final degree.

Pathway programmes also provide the opportunity to meet and socialise with other international students. This allows you to feel more comfortable with your new environment, as well as meeting some students who may be studying on the same degree course as you. Starting your degree with a few familiar faces is never a bad thing!

Some universities guarantee places on their undergraduate or postgraduate courses to students who successfully complete a certain pathway programme. This is a helpful solution if you are worried about not meeting the entry requirements, but are passionate about the subject area. This is also useful if your home country's education system is very different to that of your chosen university, as it would allow you to prove that you are capable and interested.

What subjects can I study?

There are pathway programmes available in many different subjects. Some programmes are offered by themselves, and some are offered with an integrated language course. The courses available to you will depend on where you are from, where you are choosing to study and what area you wish to study in. Generally, most universities either provide a wide variety of pathway programmes, or work in partnership with other universities or education companies.

Take a look at the pages below to explore what pathway programmes, foundation degree courses and pre-masters courses are available at the different universities.

Subjects in which you may be interested in studying a pathways course

Institutions offering pathways and foundation programmes

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