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Medicine Foundation: A faster route to medicine?

Mon 11 Apr 2022

A Medicine Undergraduate Foundation Programme is one of the fastest routes to university for international high school leavers who wish to study medicine in the UK. While there are no shortcuts to becoming a qualified doctor, a foundation year can offer an alternative pathway to two year A levels, giving you a real chance of getting into medical school faster.

Although progression from a medicine foundation isn’t guaranteed, there’s usually a guaranteed interview with a partner university on completion of the UFP (provided you achieve the progression criteria), plus lots of support from tutors, including improving your English.

A foundation year is a stepping stone into higher education, allowing international students a chance to ease themselves into the UK education system, become adjusted to living away from home for the first time and get used to university campus life.

Two-year A levels or one-year medicine foundation?

Getting into medicine, whether in the UK or overseas, can be challenging. Despite doctor shortages in many parts of the world, university acceptance rates for medical training are extremely low. So choosing the right pathway is very important if you want to succeed.

There are a number of routes to medical school in the UK. The most popular is A levels, which are subject-based qualifications that lead to university. Students will study three or four subjects over a period of two years.

A levels are accepted by every university in the country, and are also recognised worldwide. To get onto a medical degree course, very high grades will be required (often AAA - or AAB at the very lowest). Most courses only accept first time A level results too, so you won’t be able to retake your exams if you don’t get the grades you’d hoped for. 

The alternative route is a Medicine Undergraduate Foundation Programme. This is a direct route, and is best suited to students who are sure about their choice of vocation, know which university they wish to progress to and who wish to progress in a shorter timescale than A levels allow. Not only will a Medicine Undergraduate Foundation Programme prepare you for progression onto the right degree, but this type of course is tailored for international students who don’t have English as their first language.

Don’t be under the illusion though that a foundation programme is easier. It’s only suitable if you are willing to work hard to get the grades you need for progression. Medicine is selective and you will only be able to progress after successfully completing your foundation year, being successful at interview and showing evidence of a volunteer or work experience. It’s also important to bear in mind that Medicine Undergraduate Foundation Programmes normally offer progression into a partner university only, rather than giving you the chance to apply for all medical schools in the country.

What to expect from a medicine undergraduate foundation year

A Medicine Undergraduate Foundation year usually consists of three terms. Students will take three to four subjects, including English language. As an example of the subjects studied, the Medicine Undergraduate Foundation Programme at ONCAMPUS UK North teaches Medical Biology, Chemistry for Medicine, Pure Maths with Statistics and English. Having good English skills will be extremely important to your success, and as such it is integrated into the Foundation year to ensure you reach a fluent level.

Benefits of a medicine foundation include:

  • A faster route. Students can progress to a medicine degree in three terms
  • A guaranteed interview. Most foundation programmes partner with a UK university to offer a guaranteed interview for medicine
  • Practice interview sessions. These will be part of your foundation year, to get you used to what the real thing will be like
  • University integration. If you study your medicine foundation year on a university campus, you will tend to have access to all the facilities the university has to offer, join clubs and societies, meet peer groups on your intended degree course and live in student accommodation
  • An introduction to the study skills expected at a UK university
  • Time to adjust to a new country and get used to British culture
  • An opportunity to make new friends and practice speaking English
  • Excellent levels of support from tutors to help you with each subject

ONCAMPUS students on average, will undertake 22 hours of classroom or lab-based study per week. The rest of the time, you will be expected to allocate similar hours for independent study.

Why choose the UK for your medicine foundation?

A medicine degree achieved in the UK is recognised worldwide and allows students to work wherever they wish to in the world on graduation. Studying in the UK also ensures your English language continues to improve - your degree will be taught in English and so there will be no opportunity to hide behind your native language!

Want to find out more about studying medicine?

For more information about studying medicine, career routes or for helpful tips and advice from our expert teachers, click here.

There are a small number of providers offering A Medicine Foundation Programme in the UK but to find out more about the Medicine Undergraduate Foundation Programme at ONCAMPUS UK North visit or go to the ONCAMPUS course finder.


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