What international students need to know about foundation and bridging courses


Entry into Australian universities can seem impossible for people who don’t have the right school grades. This is even more complicated for international students whose prior education may not align with the entry requirements. Fortunately, there is more than one way to get into an undergraduate degree and foundation or bridging courses offer a stepping stone, ensuring that international students can hit the ground running when they start their degree. 

The advantages of starting with a foundation course

Aside from providing a path into degree-level study, a foundation course is ideal for acclimating to the Australian lifestyle. Many international students experience culture shock and homesickness when they start studying, so taking a year to get established while completing a less demanding qualification will help students prepare for their undergraduate study.

Another advantage is foundation courses are delivered in a similar style to degree courses, with a combination of lectures and tutorials. This will help you understand how the education system works, what is expected, and the general culture of the Australian student lifestyle.


The main advantage of a foundation course is that they are specially tailored to lead students into further study. The subjects they cover will be aimed at giving students the skills and base knowledge to step confidently into a bachelor degree. 

Options other than foundation courses

Typically, a foundation course is delivered over the course of a year. Sometimes this isn’t realistic or logistically possible for international students, so many institutions offer bridging courses to prepare students for undergraduate study. These courses are generally much shorter, delivered over a couple of month rather than a full year, and are more intensive. They are ideal for students who don’t meet the entry requirements, but also offer students who do a chance to get a taste of university study before diving in full-time. 

How to get started with a foundation or bridging course

Entry requirements differ between universities, as does the cost, so it is best to check with the institutions you’re interested in. Similarly, the costs for different foundation and bridging courses can vary, anything from AUD$15,000 upwards, according to 2018 figures, which again makes it important to check with your chosen institution.

Useful Links:

English language tests: Which one is right for you?

The international student application process

International students in Australia: A local’s guide to Melbourne

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