Archive for April, 2015

More and more international students are now using a foundation course to access prestigious universities in the UK. James Galloway explains why.

If you’re an international student interested in the studying in the UK, and you’re worried about your qualifications, and unsure if they will be enough to get you into a university here, then worry no more: even if you have studied a non-British curriculum, you’ll be able to enrol on the undergraduate course of your dreams by doing something called a foundation course.

A foundation course is a one year preparation course designed specifically for international students who have finished their high school exams, and have less than 13 years of education. The foundation course is like a bridge between your education in your home country, and the Bachelors courses you can study in the UK. The foundation year will help you meet entry requirements to courses the UK, as well as improve your English. You will also become familiar with how courses are taught here, as well as how to study at university, and what is expected of students in the UK.

There are numerous benefits to studying a foundation course, not least that many international students who take foundation courses score higher degree classes than those international students who do not. This shows the major benefits of a foundation year, because it truly prepares you for studying a Bachelor’s degree in the UK, and helps students get accustomed to teaching and study styles.

There are many different types of foundation courses, such as in business, finance, computing, art and design, engineering, and humanities, and your agent will be able to help you identify which course suits you best. Many universities have their own foundation courses, and some colleges and foundation providers have partnerships with universities which can guarantee progression to them – if your grades are satisfactory, of course! At the same time, you are also able to apply to other universities for your degree, based on your school results plus your foundation course. This gives international students a wealth of opportunities that they otherwise might not have.

To enrol on a foundation course, you will usually need to have an IELTS score of at least 4.5, but depending on the length of your course, and what the content of the course is, this might be higher. A good education consultant or agent can help you with the application and to choose the right course. However, if you feel that you need to polish your English first, you can always enrol on an English language program first, which is something your agent will be able to help you with. Coming to the UK as an international student will require a lot of adjusting, especially to the academic side of things, but with expert help, you will be able to guide your way through the challenges – and a foundation course is an excellent place to start your education journey.



From 6th April, 2015 UKVI now only accepts two test providers as evidence for UK visa applications – IELTS and Trinity College London.




UKVI has this week removed all but two English language test providers from its list of approved tests for UK visa applications. Only IELTS and Trinity College London are now accepted by the UK immigration authorities in support of applications, and these must be taken at one of the approved test centres either in the UK or worldwide. The new rules apply to anyone taking their test after 6th April 2015 – Any test taken before this date, as long as it is still valid and met the UKVI requirements at the time, can be used for UK visa applications.

Anyone taking the test outside the UK after the 6th of April, and applying for a Tier 4 student visa, can only choose IELTS. If a student plans to study at or above degree level, this must be IELTS academic module, although people planning to study below degree level may take the General Training module. Potential students should be careful only to book IELTS for UKVI tests, and to check that the test centre is on the list of approved centres, which can be found here.

For students taking their test inside the UK, there is also the option to take Trinity College London exams. Either the Graded Examination in Spoken English or their Integrated Skills in English tests can be used, but students should make sure that the exam they intend to take is also accepted by the school or universities they are applying to.

Certain other categories of visa (mainly settlement type visas) can be covered by the new IELTS test, IELTS Life Skills, but as this only tests speaking and listening, is not suitable for any visa application which requires testing in all four skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) such as student visas or Tier 1 Entrepreneur applications, for example.

Ben Elton, immigration adviser with ECA Legal Ltd, said “in some ways this has made matters more simple for students coming to the UK, but until more testing centres are added to the approved list, it may be difficult to secure a test date within the timeframe students have for making their visa applications. There are also students who had planned to take other English tests, and will now need to prepare for IELTS tests instead. Anyone in this situation, or simply unsure of which test they need, should seek independent advice immediately to allow themselves time to change their plans.”

More information on the tests accepted, and lists of approved testing centres can be found on the UKVI website here. ECA (UK) and ECA Legal Ltd are available to offer expert, independent advice on this and all other issues for those planning to study or work in the UK.