About Foundation Degrees

What is a foundation degree?

How long is a foundation degree?

What are the entry requirements?

What are the progression routes from foundation degree?

Who pays?

Which companies?

Why do it?

What are foundation degrees?

A foundation degree is a degree level qualification which combines academic study with work place learning. Designed in association with employers, they are qualifications to equip people with the relevant skills, knowledge and understanding to achieve academic results as well as improve performance and productivity in the work place.

Foundation degrees focus on a particular job or profession. They are intended to increase the professional and technical skills of current or potential staff within a profession, or intending to go into that profession.

A foundation degree is the equivalent of two thirds of a full honours degree and is a fully flexible qualification allowing students to study part-time or full-time to fit their lifestyle.

How long is a foundation degree?

A full-time foundation degree will usually take about two years to complete, and part-time courses may take longer. Completing an honours degree following on from a foundation degree will normally take an extra year.

What are the entry requirements?

There are no set entry requirements for foundation degrees. Formal qualifications are not always necessary as appropriate commercial and industrial experience can be more relevant. All foundation degrees take into account work experience and, in some instances, it may be possible to accredit existing company training received by an employee with foundation degree status – this is generally investigated on an individual company basis.

What are the progression routes from foundation degree?

As a graduate from a foundation degree you will have many different options. You may decide to continue with your current studies for a further year (more if part-time) to achieve a full honours degree, go on to further professional qualifications, or use the foundation degree to change careers or further your current career. Because a foundation degree is a nationally recognised qualification and one which has a value within the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS), the possibilities for progression are vast.

Who pays?

The amount of fees charged for each course can be found out direct from the providing institution. Some employers offer financial support for employees studying foundation degrees as a work-based learning option. Foundation degree students are also entitled to the same student financial support as all other higher education students. This support is usually means tested and will vary for full-time and part-time courses. For more information about the support available please check the Student Finance section.

Which companies?

If you are already in work and considering a foundation degree there are a number of employers who are already involved in providing these qualifications – it may be worth investigating whether your company already provide a foundation degree and whether they would be happy to support you through your qualification. Companies already involved include:

  • Youngs Bluecrest Seafood
  • Rolls Royce
  • Baxter and Platts
  • Network Rail
  • Balfour Beatty
  • JCB
  • BMW Group
  • Radisson Edwardian Hotels
  • Norwich Union
  • Specsavers
  • Ford UK
  • KLM UK Engineering
  • Tesco
  • BASF
  • Hampshire Police Service
  • United Utilities
  • Nottingham City Transport
  • NHS
  • Specsavers
  • London Ambulance Service
  • RAF
  • BT
  • TUI

Employers already taking advantage of the foundation degree system have found that investing in their staff by providing these qualifications has improved staff retention, and are therefore keen to continue encouraging employees back into education.

Why do it?

It may be that you already have a great deal of knowledge of your profession and are looking to formalise that knowledge into a qualification, or it may be that on leaving school you are not sure that a full honours degree is for you. Whatever your personal situation, there are several reasons why you might opt for a foundation degree. These are highlighted below:

  • Accessibility - sometimes the idea of a full honours degree can seem daunting; a foundation degree may offer a more accessible stepping stone. You will be able to study at your own pace, fit it around any paid work that you might want to do and, in many cases, institutions will allow you to continue studying on completion of your foundation degree in order to achieve a full honours degree.

    In addition, formal qualifications are not always necessary for entry onto a foundation degree. An individual's relevant experience, achievements and motivation to undertake the programme will all be taken into account as well.

  • Earn while you learn! - for many people taking a break from earning is a decision they are simply not in a position to take, and some would rather maintain financial independence than give up work in order to study for a degree. A foundation degree offers you the opportunity to do both, and in fact, continuing working whilst you study is actively encouraged.

  • Better career prospects - employers lead in the design and development of foundation degrees. This ensures that they meet current employment needs. Therefore, on completion of a foundation degree you have a qualification and a range of skills which are attractive to employers. These skills are particularly useful if you are looking to become a higher level technician or associate professional such as a legal executive, marketing consultant or personnel officer.

  • It's a great place to start - once you've started a foundation degree you may find yourself wondering why you hadn't thought about taking qualifications before; you may decide to take an extra year and achieve a full honours degree or you may want to explore other types or levels of qualification.

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