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Foundation Degrees

Characteristics Statement

Characteristics Statements describe the distinctive features of qualifications at particular levels within the Qualifications Frameworks. They describe the qualifications in terms of their purpose, general characteristics and generic outcomes, but do not include subject level detail.

On this page you will find the Characteristics Statement for Foundation Degrees. A short summary of the Statement is published below.

Foundation degree characteristics statement

Publication date: 20 Feb 2020

About this Characteristics Statement


Foundation degrees were introduced over 20 years ago to provide graduates needed within the labour market to address shortages in particular skills. Sitting at Level 5 of the Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications, they primarily facilitate progress onto higher education programmes but also stand as recognised qualifications in their own right. They typically integrate academic and work-based learning, building upon a long history of vocational qualifications in higher education.

Many foundation degrees are designed to meet local employment needs, but others have a national or international focus. They can also form part of higher and degree apprenticeships. Offered in a wide range of subjects and delivery modes, foundations degrees share the features of versatility, flexibility and accessibility, enabling clear routes for students to progress.

This Characteristics Statement for Foundation Degrees describes the distinctive features of these courses, in terms of design, employer involvement, accessibility and progression. It describes the partnership approaches between providers and typical content, as well as teaching and learning and assessment approaches.

View more Characteristics Statements

Visit our Characteristics Statements page to find more Statements including Higher Education in Apprenticeships, Doctoral Degrees, Master's Degrees, Foundation Degrees, and Qualifications involving more than one degree-awarding body.