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【The Standard】 Choose your program wisely

UK University


One of the popular routes to a university education in the UK is an international foundation program.

When choosing your international foundation program, it’s important to choose wisely.

My advice is very much like the advice I give about choosing a British boarding school: of course, you want to consider academic rankings, but it’s also helpful to look beyond those and consider the whole package that is being offered to students.

One university with a strong international foundation program and much more is the University of Surrey. This provides a good example that illustrates exactly why it’s a good idea to look at a university as a whole.

The University of Surrey does have high academic rankings in various UK guides, including The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide – the annual guide produced by one of the most respected newspapers in Britain.

More specifically, the individual subject rankings are also strong; there is a diverse range of subjects with high ratings here. Included in the list are typical subjects such as chemistry and psychology, but also more unusual subjects such as food science, creative writing, drama and dance, and even criminology.

Beyond the academic rankings though, a 2018 student experience survey by The Times saw this university placed seventh – meaning a lot of students found that their general experience and time at the university was rewarding and well-spent.

What sort of features contribute to a good student experience? Well, apart from its picturesque campus, this university has some excellent sports facilities. It is home to Surrey Sports Park, a center that was actually used as a training base for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

This university is also the only one in the UK with its own satellite company – Surrey Satellite Technology. And it has the Rolls-Royce Thermo-Fluid Systems University Technology Centre as well.

For students studying engineering, professional training placements could be at companies that include Airbus, Rolls Royce, McLaren, Williams F1 and Bentley.

This leads on to another of the University of Surrey’s great strengths – the commitment to helping students find employment. It is the top university in the UK for work placements and research partnerships and seventh in the world, according to QS World Employability Rankings 2019.

To see a university that concerns itself so much with graduate employment is very encouraging.

This one actually pioneered the use of professional training placements 60 years ago so it has a great deal of experience in this area and is clearly a forward-thinking institution.

The University of Surrey’s foundation program for international students takes place over two semesters and is divided into three branches. Students choose the branch that is most appropriate for their intended degree: engineering and physical sciences, life sciences and finally business, economics, law and social sciences.