Launch of Foundation Year Programme

Today we are excited to announce Fitzwilliam’s participation in the inaugural Foundation Year at Cambridge. Widening access to higher education has been central to Fitzwilliam’s identity since our foundation in 1869, and Fitz is delighted to be one of the first colleges to host students for the Cambridge Foundation Year – an innovative new programme offering talented students from backgrounds of educational and social disadvantage a new route to undergraduate study.

Widening access to a wide range of students, whatever their background, is central to our ‘DNA’ as a College. That’s why a number of us at Fitz have been centrally involved in developing plans, and why we as a College welcome this new programme.
Baroness Sally Morgan, Master, Fitzwilliam College, Member of Foundation Year Project Board
What is a Foundation Year?

The Foundation Year is a one-year course and is aimed at an entirely new stream of applicants who have the ability to succeed at Cambridge, but whose circumstances have so far prevented them from reaching their full potential. The year’s experiences are designed to prepare students for further learning and offer them the chance to progress straight to an undergraduate degree at Cambridge. Crucially, the Foundation Year is free to students; a £5 million gift from philanthropists Christina and Peter Dawson will fund the launch of the programme and full one-year scholarships for all students who are accepted.

Who will be able to access the Foundation Year?

Up to 50 Foundation Year students will arrive in Cambridge in the programme’s first intake in October 2022, after applying directly through UCAS by the January 2022 deadline, and undergoing interviews and assessments to identify their aptitude. Typical offers will require 120 UCAS Tariff Points, which is equivalent to BBB at A-Level. The usual offer is at least A*AA.

The Foundation Year aims to reach students whose education has been disrupted and are therefore unlikely to be able to make a competitive application to undergraduate study at Cambridge through the University’s standard admissions process. Through outreach work, we will encourage applications from those who have been in care, those estranged from their families, and those who have missed significant periods of learning because of health issues. Other possible candidates include students who have been unable to access suitable qualifications, those from low-income backgrounds, and those from schools which send few students to university.

I am delighted that we can now announce the Foundation Year, and that Fitzwilliam will be involved in the pilot. For me, this is the culmination of several years of work on this project. It is vital that we enable students who have suffered educational disadvantage the opportunity to study at Cambridge. This course will enable gifted students who would not otherwise apply to Cambridge to study here, and I feel that Cambridge will benefit hugely from the influx of talent that will result.
Dr Sara Owen, Admissions Tutor (Arts), Fitzwilliam College, Member of Foundation Year Project Board
What will the students study?

The students will study at one of the 13 Cambridge colleges participating in the pilot scheme, and will benefit from the community, support and academic stimulation this offers, which is intrinsic to the Cambridge experience. They will study an engaging and challenging multi-disciplinary curriculum in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences that will prepare them for further study in these subjects. It is anticipated that as the Foundation Year programme develops, more subjects could be added, for example STEM subjects.

What will happen after the Foundation Year?

On successful completion of the programme, students will receive a recognised CertHE qualification from the University of Cambridge, and with suitable attainment can progress to degrees in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Cambridge without the need to apply to the University again. Students will also be supported during the programme in finding alternative university places if they do not wish to continue to undergraduate study at Cambridge, or do not meet the required level of attainment.

This is the start of an exciting new chapter for Cambridge and for the new field of candidates who can gain access to studying here through the programme. It is a part of the ongoing institutional progress on widening participation. This is another big step forward and I look forward to seeing some of the first Foundation Year students join the welcoming community of Fitzwilliam. I feel sure they will benefit from the stimulating environment here.
Dr Alex Pryce, Bye-Fellow, Fitzwilliam, Director of Foundation Year Programme
What to do next?

The first cohort of the Foundation Year will arrive in Cambridge in October 2022, and so applications will be made by January 2022.

Further information on applying to the Foundation Year Programme and the programme’s course structure and content may be found on the Foundation Year Website:

An information session for teachers and advisors will be hosted by Professor Graham Virgo (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education), Baroness Sally Morgan (Master of Fitzwilliam) and Dr Alex Pryce (Foundation Year Course Director, Bye-Fellow at Fitzwilliam) on Monday 8 February at 3.30pm on Zoom. If you would like to attend, please sign up here:

A recording will be circulated to all sign-ups, if you find yourself unable to attend on the day.

Other News
The whole Fitzwilliam community was shocked and saddened to hear last week of the sudden death of Eddie Butler (MML, 1976), at the age of 65.
Fitzwilliam College notes and welcomes the Court’s decision today to refuse Christian Concern’s claim for judicial review.
A statement from Fitzwilliam College, following the death of HM The Queen