Are Foundation Year Courses Value for Money?

  • Marie Clifford University of South Wales
Keywords: foundation year, higher education, widening participation, value for money


Value for money is a term that has, and continues to be, applied to Higher Education in the UK. Universities are held to account in terms of the quality of their provision and the student outcomes achieved. The aim of this paper is to investigate how value for money is defined and who value is being measured for, focusing on Foundation Year courses. Various measures are employed to define value for money, but they share common features: a focus on student judgment and metrics such as progression, retention and graduate outcomes. Students are the main focus when value for money is being discussed, and there are many immediate benefits (increased confidence, improved completion) as well as longer term benefits (improved wages, health and societal engagement) in being a university student. There is an investment on the part of the student and society, but the returns outweigh the initial outlay financially and socially. The implications of this study include the need to design a measure of value for money that considers the long term as well as immediate benefits of Higher Education, in particular through Foundation Year provision, improving education on what student debt entails for students and their parents and more tailored support for non-traditional learners.


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Author Biography

Marie Clifford, University of South Wales

Marie has worked with adult learners for 19 years. This has included Further Education and, for the past six years, Higher Education. Her educational background is psychology and she has an MSc in Clinical and Abnormal Psychology and is about to qualify as a professional coach and mentor. Marie has recently started a PhD and the main research question is the same as this paper. Marie considers herself fortunate to be the Course Leader of a vibrant Foundation Year course and to have made great contacts through the Foundation Year Network, so early indications are that finding participants should not be too onerous a task. She has recently adopted two fantastic children, both under three, so has developed a key interest in the impact of early life trauma. In addition to this being a personal area of significance, Marie is beginning to see the impact this may have on many of her students who may not have had the best start in life and would like to explore the implications of this in older learners. 

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