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The Cambridge Foundation Year

Launched in September 2022, the Foundation Year is an exciting new route to Cambridge for students who have experienced significant obstacles to fulfilling their academic potential. It is a fully-funded, one-year course, that is designed to prepare students for an undergraduate degree, either at Cambridge or other universities.

Each year Fitzwilliam admits 4-6 students to the programme, who join a 50-strong cohort across the wider University. Teaching for the FY takes place primarily at the West Cambridge Hub, which is 10 minutes walk from the College, making Fitz a great choice for FY applicants.

Because the course is still relatively new and the eligibility criteria are quite specific, we have included a lot of detail below. If you would like to talk to the Fitzwilliam FY Director of Studies, Dr Sara Owen, she can be contacted on 

Course Details

If you want to study courses in the Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences and circumstances have prevented you from realising your academic potential, this is an opportunity not to miss.​ This innovative route is designed for a new field of candidates to help them realise their academic potential through a full-time, residential programme fully embedded in the Collegiate University. The course is open to those ordinarily resident in the UK and applicants must meet eligibility criteria.

On the Foundation Year, you can expect a challenging academic curriculum in the arts, humanities and social sciences. This offers the best possible preparation for the rigours of a Cambridge degree course by broadening and deepening your knowledge and understanding as well as introducing you to the ways students learn at Cambridge. Foundation Year students will also benefit from being part of the University, including being part of a College community and having full access to all the University’s societies and facilities to pursue your interests.

Finally, you will get a nationally recognised Certificate of Higher Education and upon finishing the course you will have the option to continue to a number of suitable undergraduate degree courses at Cambridge.

Progression and further study

Completing the Foundation Year will equip students to continue to a wide range of degree courses in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. At Cambridge, completing the course to the required standard will allow you to progress on to one of 18 degree courses. Some courses require completion of relevant curriculum streams. Courses you could progress to are:

* indicates a required stream combination for progression, see Course Outline for further information.

You will also be supported during the Foundation Year to apply to other degree courses at other universities. Whether you stay at Cambridge or continue your studies elsewhere, you will receive a recognised award from the University of Cambridge which will help set you up for successful study and careers in a range of fields. It is not possible to change course during the Foundation Year.

Course costs

There are no tuition fees charged for the Foundation Year. However, if you continue to study at Cambridge by progressing to a degree course you will need to pay the tuition fee for that course. Find out more about our tuition fees.

Students admitted to the Foundation Year will also receive a Scholarship to cover rent and other living costs. This will be equivalent to what you would receive as a maintenance loan from student finance and will be ‘topped up’ with an amount in line with the existing levels offered through the Cambridge Bursary Scheme. In receiving this Scholarship, you will not need to take out student finance for the Foundation Year, but you may need to apply for relevant student finance on continuation to a degree course and will receive guidance on options available to you, including government student finance and any Cambridge-specific bursaries for which you may be eligible.


The Foundation Year intends to address educational disadvantage and disruption. To be considered for the programme, you should meet one or more criteria from at least two of the categories detailed on the Foundation Year website (unless you are care-experienced* or a refugee or an asylum-seeker**) and will be ordinarily resident in the UK.

These criteria reflect experiences that have been shown to negatively impact educational attainment. The combination of such factors has also been shown to have a cumulative impact. These criteria are a gateway to consideration for this programme and places are awarded on academic suitability.

To check your eligibility, please head to the Foundation Year Website.