What is the intervention? Foundation year programmes are one-year introductory courses at the start of undergraduate university. They are designed to help students who may not meet the standard requirements for entry into university to develop skills and subject-specific knowledge, with the aim of increasing access to undergraduate studies, increasing course completion and raising attainment. 

Evidence?  Currently, we have little to no strong evidence on the effectiveness of foundation year programmes, although there is positive anecdotal evidence. 

Should HEPs adopt foundation year programmes to widen participation? Since these programmes are high-cost interventions, providers should seek to embed causal evaluation to understand the extent to which they impact student outcomes – see the TASO evaluation guidance for more information on how to do this. Providers should also seek to build an understanding of which types of foundation year programmes are most effective and which students benefit from the most. Providers should also analyse foundation year students’ experiences of the programme, to gain a better understanding of the causal mechanisms impacting student outcomes.