Your Guide to Foundation Level Study

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Foundation level courses can make you 85% more likely to get a job and can increase your wages by $20,000 per year according to a study carried out by the Strada Educational Group and Gallup.  

Foundation courses are designed to give new students an introduction into an area of study. They give students an easy and accessible way to get started on a new path either straight out of high-school or as someone studying after years of working. You might often have ambitions to get a new job, earn a new qualification or increase your income but the path to achieving these ambitions can seem unclear and sometimes daunting. Foundation courses remove the uncertainty and give you a clear path while helping you achieve your ambitions.

Research carried out on the outcomes for students who do foundation and non-degree level courses shows the benefits of studying at this level. Students with these qualifications are more employable, have higher pay grades and are happier. A foundation course can really open a world of opportunity helping give students a new direction. They also open up the path to further study.

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If you’re starting the journey of studying, you probably have a number of questions about how to get started. Here we look at foundation level study from top to bottom and explore what foundation courses are, who they can benefit and how you can get started.

What are foundation courses?

Introduction CoursesWe have briefly mentioned some of the benefits of doing a foundation course but you might be asking exactly what foundation courses are? In a nutshell, they are introductory courses where you can study a subject at an accessible level. With these courses, you will get a really good foundational knowledge that you can then build on.

One of the ideas of foundation level study is to give you a taste of a certain subject. This lets you experience an area you want to study, and help you decide whether it is something you would like to study at a higher level. This can be great because you don’t have to commit to a course that might take years and years to complete without knowing if it is an area you are passionate about. You get to sample a subject for a short time and then you can make a more informed decision about committing to a longer study option.

How long do foundation courses take?

Foundation courses are reasonably short courses, usually taking between 17 weeks to one year to complete, with full-time and part-time options available.

Loads of optionsWhat foundation courses are available?

There are lots of study options available for foundation level study with options available in the areas of business, construction, electrical, hair, beauty and makeup, automotive, engineering and welding, hospitality, tourism and social services.


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Is a foundation course right for me?

Foundation level courses can be the perfect option for some people especially those who are re-entering study after a long absence, people assessing their options for the future or people missing specific credits to study their subject at a higher level.

There are generally three main reasons a person might choose to do a foundation course:

I don’t know what I want to study

There are a ton of study options and people often have an interest in more than one area. Foundation courses will help you find your passion which you can then develop further at a diploma or degree level. Foundation courses give students a sort of try before you buy option. They are the educational equivalent of taking a test drive before buying a car. You can sample a subject area over a short time, find your passion and then make a decision that is right for you.

I haven’t studied for a long time

Short Study Options

Foundation level course is great for people who have been away from the books for a long time and are returning to study. Getting back into the classroom after a long break can be hard and longer courses can seem like a huge step. Foundation courses can ease your transition back into study, allowing you to dip your toes in the water before jumping in the deep end.

I don’t have the qualification to study at the next level

If you don’t meet the minimum requirements for entry into a particular course, you can do a foundation level course and build up the necessary educational experience and credits needed to move into a study at the next level. These courses give you a clear path that lets you study at the very highest level even if initially you might think this is beyond you. Learning at this introductory level will mean you can gradually build up your learning experience too so you know you will be able to handle the classroom demands at each level.

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What are the benefits of studying a foundation course?

Foundation level studies can often be the first step on the path to your ultimate goal. By completing a foundation course, you are then ready to study at the next level. You are likely to see long-term benefits like better career prospects, higher incomes and even health and wellbeing improvements from starting at foundation level too.


Study at the next level

Foundation level study equips you for further study. Students often start studying a course at a foundation level to build up their credits to then go on a study further up the ladder. By starting at a foundation level, you then have a clear route to then go on and study at diploma, degree and master’s degree level.

The courses are designed to give you a taste of a certain subject area while giving you the skills that will be needed to study at a more advanced level. In certain foundation courses like our NCEA (Level 2) - Vocational Pathway Construction and Infrastructure Sector you will be introduced to a range of areas like carpentry, plumbing, painting and so on. Here you get to sample a number of areas so that when they take your next step, you do so with the knowledge that you will be studying something you will enjoy. Students who follow their passions are more likely to excel at their studies too.

By starting here, you are then better equipped to succeed in your higher-level studies because you now have a proven track record of success within a learning environment too. 


Higher income

Completing a foundation level course can have a big impact on your income level. A study in the US showed that adults with a short-term certificate qualification had an average income of $45,000 USD per year compared with an average income of $30,000 USD per year for people without any qualifications. A report from our own Ministry of Education also shows that incomes levels for graduates at every level, including foundation level, are higher than those without any qualifications. While it is true that the higher level of study you reach usually goes hand in hand with a higher salary those who complete foundation level courses can expect to earn more money over the course of their careers as well. 


Beter job prospects

Having a qualification makes you more employable with foundation graduates more like to be working than those without a qualification. The employment rate also goes up with the more qualifications you have too with higher employment rates recorded for diploma and degree holders. By starting at the foundation level, you put yourself on a path to long term employment. This can also make you more resilient to factors beyond your control like economic downturns that can affect your employment status.


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What study supports are available?

Study SupportsWe help you in a number of ways to make sure you get the most out of their studies. Starting a new course can be really exciting but we know it is a big step too. We help to make this as easy as possible and offer as much support as we can to help you get the most out of your studies and really succeed.


We have two excellent childcare centres at our Petone and Porirua campuses. Our childcare centres are subsidised so rates for students are competitive and the hours are flexible too. The centres have a low teacher to child ratio too so kids get loads of attention. They are also located right on campus so drop off and collection is really convenient.

Job broker

Starting a new qualification can be a big step and you want to know the effort and commitment you put in will be worth it. We have a job brokers team who are in place to help students find a job after they have completed their qualification. Our team are in direct contact with employers and industry and have the right connections to help you get started in your new career.

Free bus

The cost of public transport can really add up especially when you are using it often. We don’t want this to be a reason to hold you back, so we run a free bus service for our students. This service connects students to our main campuses in Petone, Porirua and Wellington city.      

Ability Support

We really want you to succeed in your studies, so we have put together an ability support team to give you whatever assistance you need. Our teamwork with students in lots of ways to help them shine. They help students with everything from confidence, workload, study transitioning and loads more. They are really supportive, and they help students reach their potential.

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Final thoughts

Foundation courses are designed to get you on the path to bigger and better things. They are pathways to achieving your ultimate career goals.

People start foundation courses because they work. The research, indicators and reports all show that with further study your chances of better employment, higher wages and even better health and wellbeing are all massively improved.

As these courses are so accessible, they are a really good option for so many people. There are so many study options too.

If you are looking to make a change and you want more information on how a foundation level course can help you get in touch because we would love to hear from you.

Written by Bobby McGuinness
 - Whitireia & WelTec

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