Academic preparation programmes for introduction in the UK higher education for students who have completed or who wish to complete their secondary education in Great Britain and to continue in undergraduate level studies in their chosen field of study.
There are also academic preparation programmes for those wishing to attend a postgraduate degree.
Students from 14 years old - for those who have not completed secondary education in their country and wish to obtain formal compulsory education and qualifications for further admission to higher education in Great Britain.
Students from 18 years - for those who have completed compulsory education in their country and wish to formally obtain typical or additional qualifications for entry in higher education institutions in Great Britain.
Who is a Mature Student?
A mature student is anyone over 21 who did not continue to higher education after school or college and are 21 years old on the 1st October of the year of commencement of their studies.
After high school, many take so-called ‘gap years’ from education in order to travel and/or do volunteer work.
Approximately 40% of mature students are over 30 and may have job experience, a family or other social or financial commitments.
Quite a few universities will accept work experience alone as being sufficient for entry. Others may ask for an Access to Higher Education Course Certificate or A-Levels or other certification as appropriate, depending on the curriculum.
What they are
The AS (Advanced Subsidiary) and A (Advanced) Levels of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) focus on traditional learning methods. They usually take one or two years to complete, according to a learner’s prowess. Pupils can choose from a wide range of scholastic subjects, as well as from some empirical ones (in project form).
The AS and A-Levels are at level 3 of the NQF. The qualification certification structure shows how different types of qualifications compare in terms of requirements posed to students.
What they include
Under current education policy, AS Levels certifications are a separate qualification. AS levels precede A-Levels and can be taken as a standalone qualification. At the end of the year’s preparation for AS Levels, a pupil can choose between two options:
• To sit the AS Levels as the final certificate
• To continue in the second year and go for A-Levels certification.
A-Levels require two years. Pupils don’t have to take AS-Levels exams to get the A-Levels certification. Those who have AS-Levels and wish to continue to A-Levels must pass examinations on all A-Levels material. AS-Levels results do not count towards A-Levels exam ratings.
Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
This additional certification can be obtained during the AS-Levels. Pupils choose a topic that interests them, complete a task or research project and present it. The EPQ is equivalent in value to half A-Levels and requires pupils to demonstrate appropriate planning, preparation, research and submit independent work. The EPQ gains extra UCAS points, is highly regarded by universities and is recommended for potential students intending to apply to Oxford or Cambridge.
Who can sit for A-Levels
Most pupils go for the AS and A-Levels on receiving their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). A-Levels are the classic way for British pupils to move on to higher education.
What it offers
A-Levels define and assess the knowledge, skills and comprehension of potential students planning to continue to graduate studies at a British institution of higher learning and specifically, in most cases, in the direction of their chosen discipline. They provide a solid foundation for their further academic prowess, professionalism and subsequent employment.
It sets an even and internationally comparable series of tests for pupils over the age of 16 to exhibit their knowledge, skills and comprehension. It allows British universities to identify the level of a potential student’s performance in detail and provides employers with a yardstick of their academic capability.
Official evaluation is through examinations. Other forms of evaluation (papers, presentations, etc.) may apply.
What it is
The International Baccalaureate Diploma (international school certificate) is a two-year curriculum and evaluation system for the last two last classes of high school. It is to effectively prepare potential students for a range of specialized studies abroad. The International Baccalaureate is equivalent and corresponding to the Greek Lyceum certificate and widely recognized internationally by colleges and universities.
What it includes
During a two-year curriculum of secondary education i.e. the last two classes of Lyceum, pupils are asked to choose 6 electives from 6 different academic fields to complement the common courses applicable to all directions of study.
Of those 6 academic fields, candidates have to study 3 compulsory subjects (mother tongue, a foreign language and mathematics) and 3 electives from the social, empirical and art disciplines. At the end of their two years, pupils sit international tests whose topics are set and graded by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)
What it offers
Within this structured framework, the IB offers a lot of flexibility by taking pupil’s interests and capabilities into account. Through carefully choosing their subjects, pupils can tailor their curriculum to their needs.
Regardless of the choice of subjects, all pupils are asked to investigate how the six major themes interconnect, to study each subject through an international perspective, develop critical thinking on the relevant scientific fields, analyze a theme in great detail through independent research (essay of about 4.000 words) and finally, they are asked to apply their knowledge and skills through 50 hours of creative and voluntary work of their choice
Assessments are done in various ways throughout the two year course. It includes the evaluation of pupils work by both external examiners and their own teachers. Internal evaluation by the school or teacher contributes between 20% and 30% in the evaluation of progress, but may represent even 50% in some of the art classes. The assessment process itself undergoes careful scrutiny and monitoring to make sure that a common evaluation standard applies to the work of all pupils, no matter where in the world they come from. In short, every IB pupil is subject to the same evaluation principles.
What they are
Foundation Courses are for pupils who have finished high school but have completed less than 13 years formal education and wish to obtain a degree in Britain. They are one year preparatory courses for students who have not followed the British education system. The successful completion of a Foundation Course opens the way to graduate studies in Britain.
Foundation Courses act as a link between the potential students exists skills and the qualifications required for entry to higher education at British universities.
What they include
Foundation courses consist of a series of courses in the discipline that the potential students wish to pursue at university level and to improve their English, where necessary, for the acquisition of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate.
What they offer
Foundation courses are designed to address educational gaps that may exist, to improve language levels and familiarize candidate students with British culture and way of life, as they prepare for admission to university.
Foundation courses prepare candidate students interested in studying disciplines such as: Finance, Information Technology, Law, Arts and Design, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Pharmacology, Humanities et al.
Some foundation course providers are in association with universities, to ensure the candidates entry to the first year of graduate studies after their successful completion of the foundation course, by allowing candidates the use of libraries, sports facilities and other university facilities.
Evaluation is via written tests on the subjects chosen by the candidate student. Also requisite and taken into account are presentations, research projects (where applicable), portfolios (where applicable) and IELTS certifications. The required grades and conditions of entry are set by each university
What it is
The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a certification showing the preparation of pupils who do not possess the traditional or formal qualifications by which to enter university (A-Levels, IB, etc.)
After successfully completing the course, candidate students gain access to higher education.
The Access to Higher Education courses are offered by colleges in England and Wales and in a range of courses such as nursing, social sciences, law, design and arts.
What it includes
The Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma course includes core subjects and electives. The minimum number is 3 and the maximum depends on the field of study. The HE Diploma is ideally suited for adults, seeing that there is no upper age limit should someone want to follow this course.
The course aims for potential students to develop critical thinking, to train in course analysis and, of course, to promote academic skills, so that may be ready to enter university. Tuition and academic support is provided throughout the course, as is also provided assistance and advice on how to apply for university through UCAS.
At the end of the course, an Access to HE Diploma is awarded with the title of the completed course.
Various instruction methods are used, including teamwork in small or larger groups. There is tuition and academic support throughout.
Candidate students are required to study extra hours outside the classroom to meet strict time limits for delivering assignments and to familiarise themselves with the challenges of this intensive learning course.
What it offers
The Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma is a certification in preparation for university.
Most Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma courses are done in a year. Furthermore, one can study part-time over two or more years or via distance learning or even by attending evening classes only.
The Access to HE Diploma is widely recognized by British universities. Many encourage potential students sitting for the Access to HE Diploma, to submit applications.
Evaluation is via written assignments, presentations, tests and examinations throughout the duration of the course. To achieve the Access to HE Diploma, one needs to obtain 60 credits with a minimum of 45 credits at Level 3 of the National Qualifications Framework.