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Alternative pathways to degrees

Traditional subject specific degrees are still a great choice for the majority of students aspiring to study at university. However, the higher education landscape is changing and there are now some exciting alternatives that bring more choice to this competitive market.

University Foundation courses

A foundation programme is primarily designed to be a ‘bridging’ year between school and university. These programmes are an ideal fit for students coming from a K-12 year curriculum with qualifications which do not meet UK entry requirements, or for students who do not have the right level of English language skills. However, in recent years, foundation programmes have developed into an alternative entry point for UK universities for students in many different situations. 1. International Foundation Programmes (IFP):

Catering specifically for international students who need to improve their language skills before embarking on their degree, they offer a 50/50 split on English language skills and subject specific preparation. They are a great way to transition into a new education environment in a new country, helping students improve their language and giving them time to work out what it is like to live and study in the UK.

2. Integrated Foundation Year:

Many universities now offer an Integrated Foundation Programme as part of a degree, a Year 0, which effectively makes it a four year programme. This allows students who do not meet the grade requirements for the 3 year degree to still apply to the university of their choice. This year will equip students with the knowledge and skill set to be ready to enter Year 1 of the full degree and in many cases progression is guaranteed. This option also means students are fully integrated into the university from day one alongside all the other undergraduates.

3. Private providers of Foundation Years

Some universities have outsourced their foundation provision to independent providers such as Kaplan or INTO. Others such as the University of London or the Northern Universities of the UK have grouped together to offer a single foundation programme to provide access to a range of different Universities. The UoL Foundation programme can lead to acceptance at universities such as LSE, Royal Holloway or London Met, depending on which course you want to take and how highly you achieve on the programme. These pathways are offered by providers located across the globe.

Interested in knowing more about alternative education pathways? Call Carfax Consultants now on +971 4 438 5276 to begin mapping your education journey now!

Degree Apprenticeships

These are an increasingly popular route to achieving a degree and these courses have become very competitive in recent years. A degree apprenticeship is effectively a job combined with a university degree. Most of the time is spent working for employers ranging from Astrazenca to L’Oreal, Nestle to Microsoft but a guaranteed 20% of the time will be spent working towards a degree qualification provided by a partner university. This can either be a day a week or can be delivered in blocks of time.

The plus points are students are paid throughout, and the tuition fees are covered by the employer and at the end of the three years, they have developed the skills and knowledge for a specific career path as well as a network of industry contacts.

Sponsored Degrees

Similar to a degree apprenticeship, on a sponsored degree programme the employer pays for tuition fees and sometimes maintenance and accommodation on the condition that the student commits to work for them either during the course or once they have graduated. The structure varies depending on the employer.

This pathway ensures great industry contacts, zero debt and guaranteed employment opportunities on graduation. Employers such as PWC, Airbus and the British Army sponsor specific degree programmes for future talent.

Industry based degrees

New and innovative universities such as Ravensbourne and TEDI have emerged as disruptors in the higher education scene.

Ravensbourne specialises in the creative and digital arts covering architecture, fashion, computing, TV, Film and Music. All the courses have embedded industry links and are based on real life briefs, so students graduate with a portfolio of work that demonstrates their readiness for their chosen industry.

TEDI, an engineering university based in London is backed by a consortium of universities including Kings College London, Arizona State University and UNSW, Sydney. It takes an interdisciplinary, real life approach with projects orientated around themes such as sustainability, smart cities and design and manufacturing, delivered in partnership with employers. The aim is to build a 21st century entrepreneurial mindset that covers all aspects of engineering.

Unsure about what you would like to study? Take our Student Profiling assessment to find the best fit degrees for your skill set, contact our Higher Education Consultancy team at


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