International Foundation Year

Guaranteed* entry to thousands of university degrees

Universities worldwide and UK ENIC (European Network of Information Centres) formally recognises the NCUK International Foundation Year as a comparable level to GCE A Level; Australian high school (SSCE); American high school (AP); and Hong Kong high school (HKDSE) qualifications.

What is the NCUK International Foundation Year?

A qualification designed with our university partners to prepare you for first year entry to undergraduate degree courses. Studying in small classes with NCUK in your home country before you start your degree will give you the confidence you need before you start your degree course.

Quality is at the heart of everything that we do so our qualifications meet the highest academic standards set by our university partners. As well as academic knowledge, the NCUK International Foundation Year will give you specialist English language, study and cultural skills that are an essential part of your degree course. This unique combination will help you to get in to the University of your choice and get on with your future career.

About the International Foundation Year

Do I need to take the International Foundation Year?

A foundation qualification is normally required by students who have completed high school outside of the UK education system and/or in a language other than English.

This qualification will help bridge the gap between your local qualification and university study and is designed to give you the academic and English language skills needed to succeed at an international university.

How long does it take?

Typically the International Foundation Year takes 9 months to complete but there are both shorter (6 month) and longer (2 year) options available. Please check with your Study Centre to see what options are available.

What subjects will I study?

Like A-Levels, you choose three academic subjects from the list below depending on which degree you want to study at university. You will also study one of our English for Academic Purposes modules which gives you the academic English language skills needed for university.

You can choose 3 subjects from:

  • Mathematics for Business
  • Mathematics for Engineering
  • Mathematics for Science
  • Further Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Business Studies
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • Global Studies
  • Sociology
  • Art and Design

With the International Foundation Year, you can progress onto more than 9,000 degree subjects at top-ranked universities worldwide.

NCUK Students

Qualification & Module Overview

The following document will provide you with overviews of what to expect from the International Foundation Year and a wider understanding of each individual module that Study Centres can offer (please note that not all NCUK Study Centres will deliver every module listed in this document). This includes information on the aims of the qualification, course structures, assessment methods and more.

Click the button below to view this document:

Our Guarantee

NCUK always acts in your best interests, helping you to realise your dreams and ambitions both at university and afterwards, in your life and career. That’s why upon successfully completing the NCUK International Foundation Year, you gain guaranteed* entry to a suitable course at an NCUK University Partner.

The NCUK Guarantee means you have an excellent choice of leading universities who will offer you a suitable place based on your grades and area of interest. NCUK gives you that offer on results day and takes the stress out of the application process. *Click here to find out further information about the NCUK Guarantee.

English for Academic Purposes

All NCUK English modules provide essential preparation for university study. Your options are:

  • English for Academic Purposes for non-native speakers of English
  • English for Academic Purposes for Proficient Users for students who have previously studied in English but need a an English language qualification for visa purposes
  • Research and Communications Skills for students who already have an English language qualification such as IELTS.

What exams do I need to take?

The NCUK International Foundation Year is assessed by coursework and by examination. 70-80% of your final grades will be based on examinations, although this depends on the subjects you choose. All assessments are set and moderated by NCUK.

Where can I study the International Foundation Year?

We have 120+ Study Centres located around the world meaning that you can choose to study locally at a Study Centre near you or you can choose to study in the UK and Ireland. Search for your Study Centre here.

Who awards the qualification?

NCUK awards the final certificate. Upon successful completion, you will receive a certificate showing that you have passed the programme and a transcript that details your module results.

NCUK’s International Foundation Year is accepted by leading universities worldwide allowing you to gain access to top-ranked international universities.

See how NCUK International Foundation Year grades compare to other common qualifications and gradings based on UCAS tariff points by clicking here.

How much does it cost?

Tuition fees vary depending on where you choose to study. Please contact your nearest Study Centre for details.

What are the Entry Requirements?

You must be 17 years old and have completed 12 years of high school education and have a recognised English language qualification e.g. IELTS 5.0.

NCUK students outside the Sackville Street Building in Manchester, where NCUK is based.

What degree can I study after they IFY?

NCUK students have the choice of progressing to thousands of degree courses. Whether you want to study Art, Computer Science, Engineering, Life Sciences, Pharmacy, Business, Law, or Artificial Intelligence, the International Foundation Year will equip you with the tools needed to succeed at university.

Browse our University Partner degree courses here.

University Progression

The NCUK International Foundation Year is accepted by many universities worldwide, including in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and more.

You can browse all NCUK University Partners here.

Can I study a full UK degree in my home country?

NCUK currently offers students the chance to complete a UK degree at our University College, the Sino British College in Shanghai, China. You can choose from the following:

  • Business Management – Sheffield Hallam University
  • Events Management – The University of Huddersfield
  • Electrical & Electronic Engineering – Liverpool John Moores University

How do I apply to university?

NCUK has a dedicated team that helps you with your university applications. We also work with counsellors in each of our Study Centres that are dedicated to helping you. Together, we will support you through the full university application process and guide you through every step of the way.

What happens if I don't get the results I was expecting?

We know that not all students achieve their predicted grades. Because of our unique relationship with our University Partners, we are able to offer our University Application Service. If you don’t meet the entry requirements for your chosen universities, NCUK can help you by finding an alternative solution so that you can still progress to university.

  • You don’t need to stress; NCUK will check your eligibility and connect with universities on your behalf.
  • Expect an alternative offer for your chosen degree course within 24 hours!

Terms and conditions apply, see for details

UK Signpost

Why Choose the NCUK International Foundation Year?

Fast-track your journey to university with our International Foundation Year. This programme offers an accelerated path to university, designed to equip you with the essential academic skills and knowledge needed for success in your chosen field. As demonstrated by our student cohort of 2022/2023, this fast-track route has proven to be an effective stepping stone to undergraduate study

22/23 student cohort:

10,000 university offers received
87% of completing students accepted a place at their first-or-second choice university 
69% of completing students accepted a place at a World Top 200 University (QS Rankings 2024)
51% of completing students accepted a place at a World Top 100 University (QS Rankings 2024)

Tens of thousands of successful students and a track record of creating opportunities internationally

We’ve helped tens of thousands of international students gain guaranteed access to leading universities, choosing from thousands of different courses, and earning good undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in a huge range of subjects.

Where Next – Career Opportunities?

International university graduates have the knowledge and skills that are valued by employers all around the world. At your NCUK university you will have access to top level careers advice and guidance to help you focus on the right job for you and to stand out from the crowd in an increasingly competitive jobs market. Choosing your NCUK qualification is the first step to realising your dreams and ambitions.


James Kairu

James Kairu

The greatest achievement i've had would be receiving my NCUK results, this opened doors for a whole new myriad of opportunities, beginning with university.

University of Bristol MEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering

Punnatad Punwatanaskul

Punnatad Punwatanaskul

I chose to study at The University of Manchester because of the world reputation of the university and the city; the university is globally well-respected and will boost my employability.

The University of Manchester BSc (Hons) Accounting with Industrial/Professional Experience

Burenkhuu Burendelger

Burenkhuu Burendelger

Due to studying an NCUK qualification I am now studying abroad which has made me more independent. Meeting people from different countries and learning about their cultures helped me enjoy this experience.

Queen Mary University of London BSc (Hons) Computer Science with Business Management and Accounting

Don’t meet the entry requirements?

If you don’t meet the entry requirements of the International Foundation Year, you might be eligible for our University Access Programme. This programme is designed to enhance your English language and study skills to progress to an undergraduate degree at a UK university.