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UK NARIC have independently evaluated the NCUK International Foundation Year (IFY) and found it comparable to:
GCE A Level standard, UK
Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) standard, Hong Kong
Advanced Placement standard, US
Senior Secondary School Certificate of Education standard, Australia
*When a minimum of grade D is achieved for all IFY modules and at least 72 points for the subjects have been achieved.
Northern Consortium UK Ltd (NCUK) is an awarding body which delivers a range of qualifications that prepare international students for higher education.
The NCUK IFY programme has been designed with NCUK's university partners, and is delivered through a network of centres around the world.
Based on its well-established methodology for credential evaluation, UK NARIC has undertaken a detailed review and comparison of the IFY, GCE A Level and HKDSE in terms of entry requirements; duration; structure and content; modes of learning and assessment; learning outcomes; and associated outcomes, including academic progression routes.
The Australian and US education systems were reviewed in detail in a 2014 study. Relevant developments have been reviewed since fior this benchmarkig study.
Entry to the standard IFY programme is based on 12 years of school education. The typical duration is one academic year, though students may alternatively take an accelerated programme in six months, or an extended programme over two years.
Modules are graded from A* to U or 0 to 100% and attract NCUK points. The IFY modules do not have a pass grade per se, however, to be placed in one of the NCUK Guaranteed Universities students need to achieve:
At least 72 NCUK points in subject modules
A minimum overall grade C in EAP and EAPPU modules, with no less than D in each EAP skills component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking)
For RCS, students must achieve grade D.
In addition to the NCUK Guaranteed Universities, NCUK students have been accepted for undergraduate study by a number of universities worldwide
In the UK: The IFY is found to be comparable to the overall GCE A Level standard. The IFY learning outcomes are found to reflect the GCE A Level assessment objectives, and the IFY and GCE A Level are found to assess a comparable level of knowledge and skills.
In Hong Kong: The structure of the programmes differs. Whereas IFY students normally study three subjects from their chosen stream plus an English/academic skills module, the HKDSE students may take up to a maximum of eight subjects where four are compulsory and the rest are chosen. However, the review of the IFY and HKDSE nevertheless demonstrates clear similarities in the assessment objectives, so overall, the IFY is considered broadly comparable to the HKDSE standard.
In the US and Australia: Following this review of the IFY, along with any relevant developments to the Australian and US education systems since a 2014 study, UK NARIC can confirm that the IFY can be considered comparable to US Advanced Placement standard and Australian Senior Secondary School Certificate of Education standard respectively.