Getting into top UK universities with the IFP (International Foundation Programme)

Dreaming of attending a British university? 

Embarking on higher education abroad is an exciting journey, but the path isn’t always straightforward. This comprehensive guide breaks down everything you need to know about International Foundation Programmes (IFPs).

Also, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by absolutely any part of this process, we are just a phone call or message away. Our expert Foundation tutors and dedicated university admissions team know exactly what to do to get you the results you’ve been dreaming of. Let’s make it happen.

What is an International Foundation Programme?

International Foundation Programmes are UK-inspired academic courses designed to prepare international students for undergraduate study at top British universities. Hence, it’s a pre-university preparatory programme. 

IFPs typically take one year to complete and cover essential subjects aligned with chosen degree paths. Some courses differ though e.g. part-time and/or two-year programmes.

IFPs bridge the gap between a student’s prior education in their home country and the requirements of a bachelor’s degree programme in the United Kingdom. These programmes equip students with the study skills, subject knowledge and English language ability necessary to succeed at university.

Please note that some IFPs offer a pre-Master’s degree programme, which prepares candidates for postgraduate study in the UK. In this case, candidates will have already completed university-level study in their home country.

Feeling unsure about what programme you should take to secure the brightest future possible? Chat with our friendly team. We’ve been there, done that and achieved outstanding results enough times by now to guide you to success.

Why opt for an IFP?

If you’re an international candidate who’s dreaming of studying in England, you might opt for the IFP.

IFPs immerse students in British-style tuition to develop the independent learning, analysing, referencing and presentation skills essential for degree-level study.

Courses cover subjects like English for academic purposes, Mathematics, IT skills and lecture-based modules in chosen subjects. IFPs are available in a wide range of disciplines.

Students receive personal academic guidance and support to ease the transition to university. By the end, they exit with not only the skills but the confidence to succeed at Bachelor’s level.

International Foundation Programmes provide a variety of benefits:

  • They offer a smooth transition into university life: IFPs tailor content to equip students for the challenges of degree-level studies. 
  • They enhance English language skills: IFPs hone English proficiency in academic disciplines, preparing you for the fluency expected from a UK undergraduate degree.
  • They ensure a solid academic foundation: Students are guided through mastering core subjects, and developing critical study skills.

For students wanting to study or build a career in the UK yet have unfamiliar qualifications, IFPs are invaluable.

If you’d like to get into a top IFP at a prestigious university, allow us to help. Guiding students to receive offers at amazing English universities is our forte! 

Who is the IFP for?

The IFP is for students who have not yet studied beyond secondary school, or the equivalent and are hoping to embark on an undergraduate degree at a prestigious university in the UK. 

Students from various education systems around the world (Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Russia, Africa, North or South America) who wish to align their qualifications with the education system of the country where they wish to study abroad e.g. the UK or US.

Entry requirements for the IFP

Entry requirements for IFPs are generally lower than undergraduate programmes, assessing academic potential rather than previous qualifications.

For international students aspiring to enrol in a foundation year course, there are English language requirements. For instance, a minimum IELTS score of 4.5 is often a prerequisite. 

It’s important to note that, given the academic level of a foundation degree, no single category in your IELTS should have a score below 4.0. If you lack formal English qualifications, attending an English language course or college before commencing your foundation course might be necessary. We have top English language tutors who can help you perfect your English for a proficiency test and/or in order to keep up with the IFP.

The application process mirrors that for degrees. The required documents and entry criteria encompass a minimum IELTS score of 4.5 or its equivalent, along with a Higher Secondary School Certificate, transcripts, a reference letter from your high school teacher, a personal statement, and scanned copies of your passport and visa. Sometimes there is also an interview. Typically, decisions are provided 4-6 weeks after applying.

Average annual costs are £15,000-£20,000 but many universities award scholarships. Any costs are an investment as successful completion often guarantees progression to the first year of a 3 to 4-year Bachelor’s degree.

If you’re worried about meeting the necessary entry requirements for your chosen IFP, don’t be. We can help you, just like we’ve done with so many other students before you! Chat with our experts. There’s no reason you cannot meet the entry requirements.

Please note that requirements can differ depending on the programme, so always check specific requirements directly with your chosen institution.

The IFP: A pathway to top British universities

There are multiple foundation providers in the UK.

Some foundation providers have established partnerships with universities. These universities offer progression from IFPs directly into their degree programmes. By successfully completing an IFP, students receive a guaranteed offer for their undergraduate degree at these top higher education institutions. This provides an accessible route for international applicants who may not otherwise meet direct-entry requirements.

Numerous programmes provide on-campus access to full university status, ensuring students enjoy complete privileges such as libraries, resources and sports facilities.

Check out the table below for further information:

ProviderAboutPartner UK universities
INTOChoose from one of the following courses to help prepare you for study at a partner university or study centre:

  • A levels
  • Foundation
  • International year one
  • Graduate diploma
  • Pre-masters 
  • English language course

INTO will help you find a place at an appropriate university to study at degree level.

  1. City, University of London
  2. Lancaster University
  3. Manchester Metropolitan
  4. Newcastle University
  5. Queen’s University Belfast
  6. University of East Anglia
  7. University of Exeter
  8. The University of Manchester
  9. The University of Stirling
KaplanKaplan offers preparation courses for a degree at a UK university. 
  1. Bournemouth University
  2. City, University of London
  3. Cranfield University
  4. Nottingham Trent University
  5. Queen Mary University of London
  6. TEDI London
  7. University of Birmingham 
  8. University of Brighton
  9. University of Bristol
  10. University of Essex
  11. University of Glasgow
  12. University of Liverpool
  13. University of Nottingham
  14. University of Westminster
  15. University of York
  16. UWE Bristol
NavitasChoose English language and pathway programmes, such as foundation and pre-masters programmes. 
  1. University Academy 92, Manchester
  2. The University of Northampton International College
  3. International College of Portsmouth
  4. International College Robert Gordon University 
  5. The College, Swansea University
  6. Birmingham City University International College
  7. Hertfordshire International College
  8. Anglia Ruskin University College
  9. University of Plymouth International College
  10. Brunel University 
  11. Keele University International College
  12. The University of Leicester 

Check out the list below, listing some of the most prestigious universities in the UK (including Russell Group universities) that accept and/or offer IFPs:

Please note that some of the universities above offer more foundation options for UK residents. Some of the options listed are for students who have studied internationally but have UK citizenship. Also note that some of the universities do not offer an IFP, but accept it as a valid qualification for your application e.g. LSE and Imperial.

Intimidated by any of the programmes or universities above? Or maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed by information and you’re unsure about what’s best for you. Well, we’ve got your back. We’ve got top consultants and tutors who can advise you and guide you to your dream results. 

How to successfully apply for an IFP 

Let’s break down the essential steps to enhance your chances of securing a spot in your desired programme.

  • Identify your target programme and institution: Research programmes, universities and study centres known for their strong IFPs in your desired field of study. Consider factors like rankings, programme structure, and support services.
  • Understand IFP structure: Clarify the specifics of the IFP structure that you’re considering. Some may have a general foundation, while others offer subject-specific pathways. Some might be offered at a university whilst some might be done online or at a study centre.
  • Review subject modules: Examine the modules or subjects covered in the IFP to ensure they align with your intended undergraduate course. Check if there are optional modules that cater to your academic interests.
  • Check progression criteria: If applicable, understand the criteria for progressing from the IFP to the undergraduate programme. If not, check what universities will allow you to apply with your IFP qualification and what grades they expect. Ensure you choose an IFP that’s likely to get you into your favoured universities. Plan how you will meet the required academic standards and any additional criteria set by your chosen universities.
  • Explore articulation agreements: Some universities have articulation agreements with specific undergraduate courses. Check if such agreements exist and how they benefit IFP graduates.
  • Language proficiency for IFPs: While language proficiency is crucial, understand the specific language requirements for the IFP. Some universities may have slightly different language criteria for foundation programmes compared to regular undergraduate entry.
  • Attend virtual open days: Take advantage of virtual open days offered by universities to get insights into their IFPs. Attend presentations, speak with current students, and engage with faculty to gather valuable information.
  • Seek guidance from admissions teams: Reach out to university admissions teams with any specific questions about the IFP application process or applying to them with an IFP. Clarify doubts regarding documentation, eligibility, and any unique aspects of the IFP.
  • Highlight academic preparedness: Emphasise your academic aptitude for the IFP and your hardworking nature. Showcase relevant coursework or achievements that demonstrate your readiness for the foundation programme.
  • Tailor your personal statement: If required, tailor your personal statement to highlight why the IFP is crucial for your academic and career goals. Say exactly why this IFP at this institution is a good fit for you. Showcase your enthusiasm for the subject and commitment to succeeding. Here at The Profs, we have excellent writing tutors who can help you smash this step!
  • Connect with IFP alumni: If possible, connect with alumni who have completed the IFP at your target institution. Gain insights into their experiences, challenges, and tips for a successful application.
  • Prepare yourself practically: You should ensure you have a passport as soon as you decide you want to take the IFP. When you decide on your preferred universities, you must research funding options and get planning. There are often IFP scholarships! As soon as you accept an offer, ensure that you apply for a visa. 

For insider tips and tricks on how to nail the IFP application process and get into your dream institutions, reach out to our friendly admissions experts

Learn from our expert IFP coaches

Here at The Profs, we are dedicated to our students’ success. You could benefit from working with one of our dedicated experts.

We’ve got a lot of experience with university admissions, including the IFP. Our admissions experts can guide you through the whole process, from choosing your programme and institution to applying and getting your offer, and we can even support you throughout the programme to achieve amazing results. Whatever you need, we’ve got you covered. 

Over 95% of our students get into their first and second-choice universities. Why should it be any different for you? Come join the winning team by reaching out today.


Do all universities accept IFP qualifications? 

No, not all universities accept IFP qualifications. However, many esteemed UK universities accept do. You can peruse this article to see just how many, and which ones.

What subjects can I study at degree level?

Students can choose from loads of subjects across a wide range of fields including Business, STEM, Humanities, Social Sciences and more. See here for more information on subjects at degree level within the UK.

What is the IFP teaching quality like? 

Teaching style ranges. You might choose to take your IFP online, in person in your home country or in the UK. If you choose to take your IFP at a university, you are likely to have a university experience similar to a first-year student e.g. living on campus and attending lectures and seminars. Usually, the IFP is led by experienced UK academics to develop independent analytical skills. 

How can I improve my visa chances?

Meeting all CAS requirements like proof of funds significantly increases appeal. Choosing a university with a strong student support service can also help.

What is the primary purpose of an International Foundation Programme?

An IFP serves as a preparatory course, ensuring international students are academically and linguistically equipped for undergraduate studies at university.

Are IFPs only for non-English speakers?

No. While language enhancement is a component, IFPs cater to a broader audience, including those adjusting to different academic systems.

Can I apply for an IFP after completing high school?

Absolutely. IFPs are designed for recent high school graduates, providing a smooth transition into university-level studies.

Are scholarships available for IFPs?

Yes, many universities offer scholarships or financial aid for IFPs. Check with your chosen institution for specific details and eligibility criteria.