These pre-university programmes will help you earn a place at the UK’s top universities

pre-university programmes
Source: University of Kent

For many international students, securing a spot at a top university in the UK is a life-long goal. Not only will a degree from a prestigious UK university give you the opportunity to set off on an adventure of a lifetime, it will give you the skills you need to succeed in a fast-moving global environment. 

Most universities these days require a pre-university course of some sort. Think A Levels and the International Baccalaureate – courses that will provide you entry into a higher education institution. However, these courses can be extremely challenging to complete. They don’t always guarantee you a place at your dream university, either, even if you have excellent high school grades. On top of that, there’s the issue of having to master the English language alongside preparing for the demands of an undergraduate degree. 

Luckily, many top universities in the UK understand this struggle. Here are four universities offering programmes for international school leavers wanting to pursue undergraduate study in the UK.

University of Kent

pre-university programme

The International Foundation Programme is specifically catered to address international students’ language concerns and allow them to integrate smoothly into their programmes / Source: University of Kent

The University of Kent is a prestigious UK university with roots dating back to 1965. A classic European institution, Kent is ranked within the top 10 UK universities for research intensity, with a host of experienced professors and staff. It also boasts a diverse student population, with students coming from 164 countries to pursue a range of pre-university and university-level programmes.

One such programme is the International Foundation Programme (IFP). Running for 40 years, the one-year programme grants international school leavers guaranteed progression to over 220 degree courses at Kent. Typically, these students have excellent high school grades, but have not completed a suitable qualification or achieved the grades needed for direct entry into a UK university. They have the flexibility to select modules from their chosen degree subject, from law and international relations to biology and computer science.

The IFP also takes into account that some international students may need extra support in learning English. Students are guided through the structures, registers, and varieties of language needed for undergraduate study.

Students can choose between a six-month course starting in spring or a nine-month course starting in autumn, depending on the subject you want to study for your degree. By the end of the programme, you’ll be equipped with the academic knowledge and language skills needed to succeed in an undergraduate degree programme at Kent.

The University of Liverpool

pre-university programmes

The University of Liverpool offers pre-university Foundation Certificate programmes in Business, Law and Social Sciences or Science and Engineering / Source: University of Liverpool Facebook

The University of Liverpool is known for many things: its stellar reputation as a leading research-intensive higher education institution, its dynamic city campus, and its inclusive, global outlook. Students also have direct access to the city of Liverpool, which, along with having a diverse community, has been voted the fourth friendliest city in the world

Alongside its broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes, Liverpool offers a one-year pre-university Foundation Certificate programme. The programme, taught by the University of Liverpool International College (UoLIC), is perfect for international students looking to gain essential study skills, including essay writing and delivering presentations. 

The programme also focuses on improving students’ academic English. Students are taught in small classes to encourage a student-centric learning environment. Regular meetings with a Learning Support Tutor are made available to every student, too, should additional academic or personal support be required. 

Choose between a Foundation Certificate in Business, Law and Social Sciences or Science and Engineering, each of which can be tailored according to your chosen progression route. Each programme has start dates throughout the year too, allowing you the flexibility to begin your studies as and when you see fit. 

The University of Warwick

Students from the University of Warwick benefit from attending a leading institution on the global stage. Situated in the centre of England, Warwick has been consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the UK, the top 20 in Europe, and the top 100 in the world. This inevitably means that the university attracts many talented and intelligent students from around the world.

The University of Warwick is a leading university on the global stage. Source: University of Warwick Facebook

To cater for this, Warwick has a well established one-year International Foundation Programme (IFP) for international students who want to prepare for future undergraduate study. It features 10 academic courses including Arts and Humanities, Computer Science, Law, and Physics and Engineering. IFP students are supported with the UCAS application process and are guaranteed a conditional offer for a relevant undergraduate degree at Warwick.

With Warwick’s IFP, the level of English tuition will be tailored to each course and level of ability. For students who don’t meet the minimum English level required for their course, Warwick provides an Extended Intensive English module. It’s a six-week long module taught in small, student-centred classes, giving students the perfect opportunity to develop their English language skills before the start of their IFP course. 

Outside of class hours, students can enjoy the lush English countryside or utilise the university’s expanse of clubs, societies, and facilities. Most importantly, students at Warwick are promised an unparalleled level of support and guidance – just look at the strong student endorsement for the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aberystwyth University

pre-university programmes

Aberystwyth University is the UK’s largest university promising a quintessential British study experience. Source: Aberystwyth University Facebook

Nestled in a quiet corner of Wales is Aberystwyth University, a Hogwarts-esque Welsh institution first established in 1872. With over 1,709 hectares of land, Aberystwyth is the UK’s largest university and is home to both students and staff as well as sheep, cows, and alpacas. The university has also been home to royalty from all parts of the world, including His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. 

The promise of a quintessential British study experience has drawn international students from far and wide. To cater for this, the university offers an International Foundation Certificate, an introductory pre-university course. The programme is suitable for students who already have the required qualifications to begin a degree but want to improve their language skills and subject knowledge, as well. 

Start the Foundation Certificate in September or January, with the option of taking a 30-week course or sticking to the 15-week Fast Track option. The pre-university course is available in five pathways: Business, Computer Science, International Politics, Theatre, Film and Television,and Law and Criminology. 

Students are guaranteed a spot in undergraduate programmes at Aberystwyth with a firm grasp of the English language by studying at the Best English Language Centre in Wales. You’ll also benefit from a robust support system, a charming Welsh backdrop, and a host of dedicated professors.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International