university without the matura
United Kingdom

Go to university without a high school diploma

Studying without the matura? It’s possible!

If the very idea of studying at university  without passing the matura, seems abstract and impossible to you, then you have probably never heard of the so-called Foundation Year, or Year Zero. This is a popular option in the UK.

Going to university without passing the matura, and sometimes without finishing secondary school,  is feasible in the British education system. Earlier blogs have already covered the Foundation Year, or Year Zero, during which you get ready to study.

Taking a Foundation  course will provide individuals who didn’t do particularly well in their matura with a way of getting onto a course ,  and is equally useful for anyone who wants to totally change their educational path and goals (for example, to transfer over from the arts to biochemistry!)

Application and Requirements

Not many people are aware of the fact that you can apply for a Foundation course without finishing secondary school or getting your matura. Yes, it’s true, you read it right. You can set off to study in the UK after the second year of high school!

All you need is a school report which covers your second year and to pass a language examination (for example, IELTS with a score of 4.5-5, or the Cambridge First Certificate). Once you have completed the Foundation Year you are automatically transferred to the first year of undergraduate studies at the same university – or you could apply to another university, if you prefer .

university without the matura
Foundation Year becomes a part of your entire course

Are you wondering how you could finance this type of course?  All student s who are starting their Foundation year in September 2020 are entitled to claim a student loan of £9250 – which is just the same amount as that offered to full-time undergraduates.

Going to university without the matura – how does that work?

So, what does a Foundation year look like? You can choose from a number of options, such as Social Sciences, Business and Management, Life Sciences, Media ,Healthcare, Computer Science – and many others. When you look at the university website, you will see what courses are open to you once you have finished your chosen Foundation course.

Are you worrying about your English language proficiency? Don’t! You will have to  spend a significant number of hours on English, and not only General English, but also on subject-specific vocabulary. This means that once you start your first year of studies, the lectures, exercises, seminars and projects will hold no fear for you.

The aim of Year Zero is to prepare you  for studying – you will learn how to compose essays, work in a group, you will discover what university assignments consist of – so once you start the first year you will be comfortable  with what is expected and familiar with the British system of education.

So what differentiates Year Zero from the first year of your degree course? You have fewer assignments and you also have more time to rest, to make new friends and even to take a part- time  job, which will help you cover your expenses.


We know about the academic  aspects of the Foundation Year, but I am sure you are asking yourself where you will live. The universities guarantee students a place in halls of residence – so you don’t have to worry about looking for somewhere to rent when you first arrive in a new country.

One of the great advantages of living in halls, is the fact that you will meet people from all over the world , so by the time the first year comes round, you will already have a group of friends (maybe you will all be able to rent a shared house at a later date?)

Studying after the second year of high school

 Who will benefit from starting a Foundation Year as early as after the second year of high school?  This option is perfect for individuals who are dreaming of studying in the UK, and who want to begin this stage of their educational journey as soon as possible. Have you always dreamed of creating fashion projects? The Foundation Year in Fashion will allow you to create a complete and competitive portfolio, which you will need to present when applying to the first year in this field.

Studying without a matura on a Foundation Year prepares you for the studies to come, not only in terms of academic skills, but also psychologically  – you have more time to familiarise yourself with academic life than other students. And that has a direct effect on the way in which you approach and enjoy your learning and personal development.