Foundation Years: Taking the Road Less Traveled

Many courses may have foundation years to allow disadvantaged students’ to get onto the course. They have lower entry criteria and allow people who didn’t have as many opportunities as other students may have to get onto their course.

Grades Don’t Reflect Ability

This cannot be said enough. If you aren’t able to get the grades direct entry asks for, don’t think it means you aren’t capable. You’re assessed differently at University than at college, especially if you’re doing A Levels that are 100% exams. Universities recognise this, and offers a Foundation Year.

More Time to Yourself

Foundation Years are full-time courses but have fewer contact hours than the direct entry courses. While I did a lot of independent study outside of the three day week, I naturally had more spare time than I would’ve if I did direct entry.

This year, I’ve learnt how to be independent and form friendships without the pressure of the first year timetable. I’ve learnt a lot of life skills this year, so next month I won’t need to worry about learning how to cook when I’m in lessons five days a week.

There’s no Race in Life

If you take a Foundation Year or gap years, you’ll be getting experience direct entry students mightn’t have. You can use the spare time to travel, to reflect on yourself, or learn skills you mightn’t have time for in the full course.

If 18 year old me envisioned himself as a doctor 10 years later, I’d have so many routes. I could do another degree and then graduate entry Medicine, take 4 gap years and then Medicine with a Foundation Year, etc.

There were so many opportunities for me to complete my ten year plan. And even if people’s plans took twenty years, how would that be a bad thing for anyone?

Closing Words

A lot of people told me to ‘aim high’ and avoid ‘BBB’ for Foundation Year Medicine, and aim for AAA for direct entry, even though a Foundation Year would be better for me. There’s a stigma around Foundation Years that need to be challenged.


Setting Up a Sandwich Year

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts for the past eight months, you’ll know that I’ve been on a work placement in the USA. In this blog post, I’ll cover some of the intricacies of setting up a sandwich placement, particularly a work placement.

My sandwich year (a term that the Americans find very funny) took place between the 2nd and 3rd years of my BSc Genetics degree – this is the period of time that most people choose to complete their sandwich year in. If your course offers the option of a sandwich year and you choose to take one on, you may be able to find a link from one of the lecturers in your department. If not, then you can find one yourself! There’s a fair bit of paperwork to do before your placement year can be approved. For example, if you’re on a sandwich work placement, Erasmus year abroad, or study abroad year then you need to fill in a transfer form. As well as this, there’s a health and safety risk assessment that must be filled out prior to approval and a form for “approval for paid/unpaid leave of absence for external travel”. If all this paperwork is putting you off, fear not! Edge Hill has a placement officer that will help you through all this and make sure you understand what needs to be done before you go.

Another thing that is a key concern when undertaking a sandwich placement is cost. You can still take out your regular student finance whilst on your year out. Edge Hill charges a small fraction of your regular tuition fees that cover admin costs whilst you are away, and your student finance will cover it. You may also take out an additional maintenance loan to help cover living costs if you want – this is your primary funding and should be taken out before you apply for any additional support from the university, such as the Student Opportunity Fund, which I have blogged about previously. The Student Opportunity Fund also requires paperwork, but your personal tutor or placement head of the department should be able to help you – it requires things like a breakdown of costs and summary of the activity you are taking on.