A pathway programme will prepare international students linguistically, academically and socio-culturally for successful undergraduate study abroad where English is used as the medium of instruction. The pathway programme, sometimes referred to as an International Foundation Year or a University Foundation Programme, is a fast-track alternative route to A levels for students whose first language is not English and who come from a 12-year formal education background.
By following a ‘bridge’ pathway programme, international students can improve their level of English proficiency, study relevant and challenging academic subjects which are delivered in English and gain experience studying in a foreign country. Overall, the pathway programme offers any international student wishing to further his or her study abroad, and in the UK in particular, an enriching preparatory experience for successful university study.
Firstly, you should consider the destination and overall cost of tuition fees and accommodation. Pathway programmes are hugely popular in the UK but are available in other English speaking countries for less, making the programme easier to sell. For example, European School of English in Malta offers an International Foundation Year with pathways into IT, Business, Engineering and Tourism and Hospitality for less than its UK counterparts running the same programme. Accommodation and cost of living are also cheaper.
The programme should offer considerable English language input and preparation for exam courses such as IELTS and Cambridge, as these may be entry requirements for admission. You should look for an accredited provider which delivers quality English language courses and a proven track record of positive results in exam courses such as IELTS and Cambridge. In addition, modules on offer should include at least some cultural awareness, study and research skills, English for academic purposes and academic modules relevant to your student/s preferred study pathway. Teachers delivering academic subjects should be suitably qualified in the subject.
A university counsellor should be able to guide students through the whole university selection and application process. Sessions with the university counsellor give students clear pointers as to what they should be looking out for when choosing a university since it is a decision that they will have to live with for the next three or four years of their life. Students should consider the location of the university, its ranking, size and population, facilities which are available on campus including support for international students, accommodation options available, travel distances and of course tuition fees, accommodation and travel and subsistence costs.
For example, Business Studies is a vast subject area and core modules will vary significantly from one university to another. It is important to look at these too, determine what most interests the student and map out what career openings they will lead to. Applying to a university through UCAS, in the case of UK university admission, or directly to universities, requires some maturity. While online application instructions are clear and admission office personnel will be helpful, writing a Personal Statement is no mean feat. For international students, this is the equivalent of an interview, so applicants really need to give it their best shot.
There are various types of pathway programmes which your students can apply for. In some cases, a pathway programme will offer admission into just one university. Others offer a much wider choice of progression options through agreements with many universities which will endorse a pathway programme certificate, offer Conditional Letters of Acceptance or guaranteed admission, subject to the student meeting all other entry criteria. At this age, most students are in a transition between High School and university, and have yet to explore what they want to study and which university they want to gain admission to. The more options they have, the better.
When you are selling a pathway programme to your student/s, it is important to offer the right advice and guidance so that your students get the very best out of their university preparatory programme. It is an important stepping stone to their future career.
Rachel Falzon is Academic and Business Development Manager at IALC-accredited language school ESE (Malta) and Business Development Manager for Claret Group. She is University Counsellor on the International Foundation Year offered in partnership with NCC Education UK. www.ese-edu.com