How does Open Foundation work?
- What is Open Foundation
- Program structure
- Program assessment
- Program workload
- Using Open Foundation to apply for university
What is Open Foundation?
Open Foundation is a tertiary preparation program that has been offered by the University of Newcastle since 1974. It is offered at the Callaghan campus in Newcastle, the Ourimbah campus on the Central Coast or by Distance (online) education. Open Foundation has two primary purposes:
- it provides a qualification which you can use to gain entry to university, and
- it helps you to develop the skills needed for successful study at a tertiary level.
Every year several hundred students complete the program and qualify for undergraduate admission.
Open Foundation is recognised as an entry qualification for many universities around Australia as well as for applicants to the NSW Police Force recruitment and training program.
To successfully complete Open Foundation and qualify for university entrance you must complete 40 units of study within one calendar year. The academic year consists of two semesters. You can check the semester dates here.
There are different ways you can do this:
- you can complete 20 units in semester 1 and 20 units in semester 2 (the Part-time program), or
- you can complete the full 40 units of study in semester 2 (the Intensive program).
Importantly, you must successfully complete all 40 units in one calendar year.
It is not possible to complete 20 units in 2013 and then come back in 2014 to finish the program by doing the remaining 20 units.
The courses are designed to develop skills up to university standard by the end of Semester 2 - and you need to demonstrate that you are able to successfully complete two courses concurrently at the tertiary preparation level before you can be considered for university entry.
In most courses, 50% of your final mark is made up of progressive assessments during the semester and 50% of your final mark comes from an end-of-semester exam.
Note: In the Part-time program you will take Part 1 of two courses in Semester 1 and Part 2 of those same courses in Semester 2.
Assessments will be very similar to those in university degree programs. They might include completing written assignments such as essays, oral presentations, in-class or online quizzes, and mid-semester exams.
The end-of-semester exam is a formal examination held during June in semester 1 and November in semester 2. These examinations are compulsory and you must sit them in order to pass your courses.
Open Foundation students must be available in the formal exam periods (June and November), and must ensure that they are able to allocate two days for their exams in each exam period (this may require planning for leave from work commitments or arranging child care).
You can check the dates of the exam periods here. However, the final exam schedule, which gives the dates of the exams for your courses, is usually provided around six weeks before each exam period. This is why you need to keep the entire examination period free in each semester.
Students studying on campus will attend exams at either the Callaghan or Ourimbah campus.
Exams for students studying by Distance will be scheduled in major cities or towns within 2 hours’ drive from their place of residence. Distance students must be a resident in Australia for the duration of their studies and can not sit exams in overseas locations.
Studying at university requires time and energy, but with some thought and organisation, you can successfully balance your life and study.
As a guide, students enrolled in the Part-time Open Foundation program (March to November) will have an average weekly workload of 15-20 hours per week. For students enrolled in the Intensive Open Foundation (July to November) the average weekly workload is 30-35 hours per week. This includes time in classes for on campus students.
Using Open Foundation to apply to University
Open Foundation students can apply for admission to any undergraduate degree program at the University of Newcastle, with the exception of the Bachelor of Medicine. Many other Australian universities also accept Open Foundation as an undergraduate entry qualification, however you should contact other institutions directly to check their admission requirements.
Open Foundation students who pass 40 units of study within a calendar year are considered for competitive entry into an undergraduate degree based on their average mark across all of their Open Foundation courses.
This average mark is converted to an equivalent entry ranking, similar to an ATAR, by the Universities Admission Centre (UAC) in NSW/ACT (or the equivalent body in other states or the Northern Territory).
Note: Open Foundation students do not receive an ATAR.
Applications for university admission through UAC open in August of each year.
Next: Who can apply?
Now you know a bit about how the program works. Next, move on to Who is Open Foundation for? to find out whether you are eligible to apply, and more about whether Open Foundation might suit you.