Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 22 September, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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Foundation programme

core definition

A foundation programme provides an introduction to degree-level study.

explanatory context

Foundation programmes are sometimes referred to as ‘year-zero’ programmes implying that they precede the first year of a degree programme.


Foundation programmes are distinct in intention from access courses, which prepare potential students for higher education. Access courses may, incidentally, provide some foundation for study.


Foundation programmes as a concept are sometimes taken to include certificated awards in their own right as well as being a vehicle for progression to a degree programme, for example associate degrees (US) and foundation degrees (UK). However, this is not the usual designation for foundation programmes.

analytical review

Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE ) (undated) defines a foundation courses as:

A recognised HE course designed to prepare students who have qualifications which are acceptable for entry in general, but are not appropriate to a specific course of study. Foundation courses are also used as Year 0 of a degree course to enable students with non-traditional qualifications to participate in HE by using Year 0 as a preparatory year for a full degree programme.


The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) (undated) states:

Foundation course: A higher education programme of study designed to prepare students for a further course for which they do not have the usual entry qualifications. Foundation courses sometimes constitute a preparatory 'Year 0' of a degree course. They are not the same as foundation degrees.

associated issues

Foundation programmes are distinct from, but related to, the development of foundation degrees in the UK.

related areas

See also

access courses

foundation degree


Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE ), undated, Glossary, available at, this is a new address, the original page was last updated 8 November 2010 but the new page is undated, accessed 20 July 2012. There is no entry for foundation programme or foundation course in the versionof the Glossary accessed 31 December 2016.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), undated, Glossary, available at, accessed 3 January 2017, not available 20 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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