It might seem like a lot to ask of any new international student but for some universities, studying a foundation year (a pre-university course exclusive to international students) is a requirement in order for students to successfully enter their chosen degree at their school of choice.
But what is the point of undertaking one or two years of this preparatory course before getting into university? What kind of benefits does foundation studies provide international students?
One reason why an international student would greatly benefit from undertaking a foundation year comes down to refining their English language skills.
Chinese international student Chris graduated from Trinity College Foundation Studies, the foundation school for the University of Melbourne’s prospective international students. He says that it was at Trinity where he was able to practice his English every day with fellow students and educators.
“Trinity College was the very first school where I learned everything in English,” Chris said.
Thinking and communicating in English was an entirely new experience for him, one he feels helped him prepare for uni life.
Current foundation studies student Joyce agrees with Chris, further adding that being able to speak in English everyday offered exciting challenges for her.
“Being in foundation studies allows [students] access to trained English speaking teachers, and at the same time also increases your chances of using English to make friends from other countries,” Joyce said.
Though it might not be readily apparent, some beneficial career skills that students need for later on are also developed at the foundation level.
“Foundation study really sharpened my communication skills, such as my speaking and my listening skills,” said Dennis, a former foundation studies student.
“You can also learn how to interact with friends from different backgrounds,” he said.
Joyce said it was at foundation studies where she began to eliminate some of her bad habits.
“Do not do your work at the last minute; don’t be bothered if your friends are out having fun whilst you have to work on assignment,” Joyce advised fellow students. For her, getting rid of her procrastination habits and learning the value of listening while in a group assignment are traits she says have helped her improve as a person.
Social benefits and cultural adaptation
Everyone operates on the same level at foundation studies – for most, if not all, it will be their first experience studying abroad on their own. It’s an experience that can help students bond and in an environment where everyone is an international student it presents an equal opportunity to easily make new friends.
Moreover, the foundation year gives students an easier time to integrate into a new culture and environment.
Chris said he learned a lot from the one and half year of study he did at Trinity where he was able to navigate the cultural differences between Australia and his home country. He also attributes his time at foundation studies for helping him acclimate to the university approach towards education.
“The days in school does not only mean endless hours of studying but so the fantastic life in the society, with all your friends and teachers. Things outside the classroom will eventually be the most precious and the best experience,” Chris said.
“I’ve made a considerable number of great friends in Trinity, most of [whom] have successfully entered the University of Melbourne as well.”
This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.