5 Biggest Myths About Foundation Courses

From being easy-peasy lemon squeezy to being the shortest pre-university programme out there, foundation programmes are no stranger to misconceptions. We debunk 5 popular myths about this pre-university programme here.

Updated 24 Jan 2022

5 Biggest Myths About Foundation Courses - Feature-Image

You’ve probably heard people telling you that a foundation course is really easy, or that you’ll be stuck in the same university for your degree if you take a foundation.

But is any of it true? What’s fact and what’s fiction?

In this article, we debunk 5 popular myths about foundation programmes. Here we go!

#1. The syllabus is a walk in the park

Misconceptions of Foundation Studies-The Syllabus Is A Walk In The Park

Many people think that a foundation programme is equivalent to a “honeymoon” year in college. From a glance, the course modules don’t appear to be as hard or as extensive as other pre-university programmes such as A-Level or STPM.

But this isn’t exactly true. While a foundation may not be as difficult as other pre-university courses, it’s still a lot tougher than what you’re used to in secondary school.

For starters, you’ll be introduced to coursework and assignments that will count towards your grades. This means that consistent effort is required to get good grades. Additionally, you’ll also be expected to take on additional reading and independent research to complete your assignments, which includes learning how to cite and reference (APA referencing, anyone?).

#2. Your lecturers will go easy on you

Misconceptions of Foundation Studies-Your Lecturers Will Go Easy On You

Because college offers a whole new environment that’s not what you’re accustomed to, you may think that your lecturers will understand your struggles and let you off easy in the first few weeks of your programme.


Lecturers have been in the game for a long time, so they know that tough love and discipline is needed to prepare you for your degree. They also have a lot more students to teach compared to secondary school teachers, so don’t expect to be spoon-fed information throughout your course.

Instead, you’ll be expected to quickly adapt to the fast-paced environment and be responsible for your own education, or you risk being left behind.

However, don’t panic if you find yourself struggling. Lecturers are always willing to provide extra guidance after classes — all you need to do is to take the initiative and ask!

#3. You must already know what you want to study for your degree

Misconceptions of Foundation Studies-What To Study For Degree

This rings true for certain foundations that are geared towards a specific degree. For example, if you’re enrolled in Foundation in Engineering, you’ll be on track to pursue an Engineering Degree.

Some universities, however, offer foundation programmes that are more broad-based, such as Foundation in Science and Foundation in Arts. These foundation programmes allow you to take on more general subjects related to the stream of your choice. A Foundation in Science, for instance, could consist of subjects such as mathematics for science, chemistry and biology, allowing you to progress to degrees like pharmacy, food science and bioscience.

This means that a foundation programme isn’t limiting as most people think.

Nonetheless, it’s important that you read through the syllabus to ensure that it covers the required subjects for your intended degree. Taking a Foundation in Science that doesn’t have biology, for example, will strike out degrees that require this subject, like medicine and pharmacy.

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#4. You have to continue your degree programme in the same university

Misconceptions of Foundation Studies-Complete Degree Programme In The Same University

While this is advisable, it is not a must.

Most universities design their foundation programmes in such a way that you are able to smoothly transition into a degree programme under the same institution.

However, transferring from one university to another after completing your foundation is not impossible, neither is it uncommon. A number of universities do accept accredited foundation qualifications from other universities.

Bear in mind, though, that it may not be smooth sailing. You will often need to provide your full academic transcripts and course syllabus for assessment purposes, in addition to meeting the entry requirements.

#5. It’s the fastest pre-university programme available

Misconceptions of Foundation Studies-Fastest Preuniversity Programme Available

Well, a foundation is certainly fast as it is only a one-year programme. However, it isn’t the only pre-university programme with this speedy duration.

The Australian Matriculation, Canadian Pre-University and Malaysian Matrikulasi all have a duration of about 12 months. This is in contrast with programmes such as A-Level and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), which takes 18 to 24 months.

So if you want to begin your degree pathway quicker, you can also choose from these one-year courses as well.

We hope this has cleared your doubts about foundation courses. When choosing a pre-university programme, it pays to do some research and never discredit anything just because of hearsay. If in doubt, you can also get in touch with education advisors (like us!) for some guidance and advice. All the best!

Unsure of which pre-university course to take? Take our Pre-University Course Recommender and find out which one suits you best!

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    Natasha Sin

    Natasha Sin

    I went outside once. That was before Netflix.