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Foundation Year


The Cambridge Foundation Year is designed to offer an alternative route to Cambridge for students that have experienced educational disadvantage and disruption in their educational journey so far.

How you can support an application to the Foundation Year:

Applications for the Foundation Year must be made via UCAS by the January deadline.

For 2024 entry, complete applications must be submitted by 18:00 (GMT) on 31 January 2024.

Selection criteria

In order to be eligible for admission to the Foundation Year, we ask that applicants meet one or more criteria points in at least two of our three categories that denotes educational disadvantage and/or disruption. Candidates who are care-experienced, or who are currently in care, are automatically eligible for admissions consideration.

The full list of criteria in these categories may be found in our eligibility guidelines document here

In addition to this, applicants must also have, or be projected to receive 120 UCAS points from our list of approved qualifications. For ease, many people understand this as equivalent to BBB at A-Level. However, unlike with standard entry, applicants may apply to the Foundation Year with a combination of alternative academic qualifications including (but not limited to) BTECs. 

You can check what 120 UCAS Points would mean for the student’s qualification type or combination of qualifications on the UCAS tariff points calculator.

There are no specific subject requirements, although some very vocationally oriented courses aren’t suitable, and non-academic UCAS points (ie. from Music Qualifications) are not accepted.

Further information on the academic requirement and accepted qualifications may be found on the Undergraduate Study website.  

Personal Statement

As part of the UCAS application process, Foundation Year applicants are required to submit a Personal Statement. In this Personal Statement, applicants will be asked to tell us about their subject interest(s) and express their motivations for study.

There are a variety of ways that candidates may provide evidence of wider, meaningful engagement with areas of academic interest. For example reading magazines or journals, or listening to podcasts focused within the academic field they are interested in studying in. Discussion of any extra-curricular activities (including paid employment) in the Personal Statement is also encouraged when demonstrative of transferable skills.  

Applicants are encouraged to read the UCAS guidance for writing a Personal Statement; specific guidance on writing a Personal Statement for an application to the Foundation Year is available here with a supporting video you may access here.

It is worth reminding Foundation Year applicants that the Personal Statement is one part of a wider consideration of their academic ability & potential as demonstrated in their UCAS application. Details regarding meeting the eligibility requirements for the programme, or making reference to the Foundation Year, do not need to be included in their Personal Statement as this can be provided in the FYSAQ.

UCAS Reference

If you are supporting an applicant applying through a UCAS Centre, you will need to provide a UCAS reference. We have no specific requirements for this, although you might like to keep up-to-date with advice and guidance from UCAS.

Foundation Year Supplementary Application Questionnaire (FYSAQ)

To make a valid application to the University of Cambridge Foundation Year, applicants are asked to complete an online Foundation Year Supplementary Application Questionnaire (FYSAQ) shortly after submitting their UCAS application.

Candidates usually receive an invitation to complete the FYSAQ online within 48 hours of submitting their UCAS application. Applicants will have, on average, 2 weeks to complete the FYSAQ and provide any related evidence. If a candidate submits their UCAS application on the deadline date, they will have until 18:00 (GMT) on 1st February 2023 (i.e. less than two weeks).

In the FYSAQ, applicants will be required to provide information, and in some cases evidence, of how they meet the programme’s eligibility criteria. If an applicant is required to provide evidence of meeting one or more criteria point, support and guidance on how they may do so is available here. 

In some cases, candidates will require a letter from their School/College to confirm circumstantial details, for example, if the candidate was receiving Free School Meals whilst in education. Please aim to give this letter to the candidate ahead of submitting their UCAS application, so they may include the evidence in the FYSAQ.

Further support and guidance for applicants submitting the FYSAQ is available herePlease note, the information provided in the FYSAQ is treated confidentially and is used only to verify eligibility for the programme.


There are 12 Colleges participating in the Foundation Year, the full list of Foundation Year Colleges may be found hereFoundation Year students will have the opportunity to express a preference for College in their FYSAQ.

Anyone who isn’t familiar with the role of colleges in life at Cambridge should explore that to be able to choose whether to express a preference or not. You can find out more here.

Please note that two of the Colleges (Murray Edwards and Newnham) consider applications from female students only. Wolfson and St Edmund’s similarly are Mature Colleges that only accept applicants over the age of 21.

Information about the different Colleges can be found in the Undergraduate Prospectus and on Colleges’ own websites. Students may also find it helpful to explore the Colleges by visiting our Virtual Tour. In-person visits are also welcome at any time of year. Open Days offer a good opportunity to explore further.

Interviews and Admissions Assessment

After reviewing eligible applications, candidates are shortlisted. We do this as we don't have the resource to interview every candidate who applies. In order to be considered for an offer for study, shortlisted candidates will be required to complete both an Admissions Assessment and attend two interviews.

The Foundation Year Admissions Assessment is designed to assess applicants’ ability to think through a range of ideas and arguments, allowing them to show that they have the skills required to complete the Foundation Year. The assessment may be completed online within a set timeframe we stipulate. Past papers, a sandbox of the test environment and other guidance on how to prepare is available here.

Shortly after completing the Admissions Assessment, candidates will be interviewed twice by representatives of the University. These interviews will take place online. Interviews are discussion-based, and predominantly academic and subject-related, so applicants will be asked questions relevant to the Foundation Year and about their admissions assessment. Guidance on Foundation Year interviews is provided here.

What are the differences between the Cambridge Foundation Year and Foundation Years offered at other UK Universities?

There are several differences. For one thing, it is a multi-disciplinary one-year course. It covers a range of subjects in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, so applicants don’t apply for one particular subject like they do at some other universities.

Also, our Foundation Year is a recognised qualification in itself – a Level 4 Certificate of Higher Education – so, providing the student passes the course, they earn a qualification from the University of Cambridge.

Foundation Year students also have the opportunity to progress onto 1 of 18 related Undergraduate courses at the University of Cambridge after successfully completing the programme; further information on this may be found here.

Another key difference is that the programme is free for students and it is fully-funded. This means students don’t need to avail themselves of student loans during the Foundation Year. They aren’t liable for any tuition fees for the Foundation Year, and their scholarship covers their living costs including food and accommodation. 

What are the differences between the Cambridge Foundation Year and an Undergraduate degree programme at Cambridge?

The curriculum of the Foundation Year course covers a variety of subject areas in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, for example, History of Art, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Land Economy. Instead of studying one subject, students complete 8 interdisciplinary papers across four separate ‘streams’ that introduce new subjects and approaches.

By design, the Foundation Year curriculum focuses on developing a student’s deeper learning skills and preparing them for the academic demands of Higher Education.

Please see further details on the structure of the Foundation Year here, including a course timeline.

For those wishing to progress onto an Undergraduate programme at Cambridge, the programme prepares its students for the academic rigours of Tripos study as well as familiarising them with the teaching and supervision model standard for Undergraduate study at Cambridge.

Students that progress at Cambridge will transition onto the first year of the Undergraduate course of their choice (within the parameters of the Progression model). Further information on progression, and its requirements at Cambridge, may be found here.

Further information and Resources

Teachers' Newsletter

Subscribe to the University’s Newsletter to keep up-to-date with events, the latest admissions news, and resources for students. Find out more

Area Links Scheme

The University's Area Links Scheme enables the Cambridge Colleges to build effective, coherent relationships with schools and colleges across the UK. Find out more

Events for teachers

The Foundation Year Team frequently runs outreach and recruitment events for interested applicants and their teachers/advisors. Find out more

Promotional Materials to Share

Please feel free to distribute and display our poster and leaflet in your School/College. If you would like any paper copies or further promotional materials, please contact us.