Bringing together a wide range of academic expertise, the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre is part of the University of Newcastle's Academ

The Centre

The English Language and Foundation Studies Centre at the University of Newcastle, Australia, has a proud history of leadership in the provision of alternative pathways to undergraduate education for students from various equity groups. Since 1974, thousands of people have entered University through one of our enabling or international programs, making the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre the largest of its kind in Australia, contributing strongly to widening student participation in higher education. With inclusive curriculum and strong support structures our programs assist diverse groups of students to achieve their learning aspirations. Furthermore the commitment of our staff to student-centred learning and to the provision of exceptional levels of support, make our courses some of the most highly rated by students in the University.     

We are proud of these Key Facts:*

  • Since 1974 approximately 42,000 people have enrolled in our programs
  • 63.5% of students were first in family to enter university
  • 58.2% of students were female
  • 35.9% of students identified as being from Low Socio-Economic Status areas
  • 5.8% of students identified as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background

*This information is correct as of December 2012

The Centre has played a leadership role in enabling programs at a national level. For example, in 2004, the Centre initiated and hosted the first ever national enabling educators conference, as well as the second national conference in 2007. Staff from the Centre have also played an important role in the establishment of a national association of enabling educators. Today the Centre is actively building its research capacity through a broad program of exciting initiatives including a new international journal on widening participation, a monograph series and is working in conjunction with the University of Newcastle Centre of Excellence in Equity for Higher Education. Furthermore, enabling researchers at University of Newcastle in 2010 led a group of Australian universities prominent in the delivery of such programs in a successful Office of Learning and Teaching Grant research project to investigate and develop strategies to improve student retention in enabling programs, a phenomenon not well understood in the past. As a result, a community of practice, a website and an ongoing process of collaboration have been established with enabling educators across Australia to share ideas and experiences to enhance student retention. If you would like to find out more about our Research please visit our Research homepage.

Today the Centre delivers enabling programs in traditional face-to-face, online and intensive modes across two campuses. As well as a broad range of refresher courses in our UoNPREP program, the Centre currently offers three enabling programs – Open Foundation, Newstep and Yapug. Open Foundation, established in 1974, was the first tertiary preparation program offered by the University and was introduced to offer adults access to tertiary education. Newstep, first offered in 1990, is aimed at providing a second chance for recent school leavers. Since 1999 the Indigenous pathway program Yapug has been offered in conjunction with the Wollotuka Institute. Each of these programs is designed to best cater for the specific needs of students and to encourage their lifelong learning. Many of our students not only progress into undergraduate programs, but also go on to pursue their honours and postgraduate studies.

Our innovative and holistic approach to student support, customised for enabling students, has been a key contributor to the success of these programs. The Centre offers and strongly encourages students to take up these extra support services provided free of cost, which include careers guidance and counselling, English as a second language support, teaching and learning activities, dedicated student liaison officers and embedded counselling services. Such support has fostered a safe and supportive teaching and learning environment that provides the best opportunity for our students to flourish.

In research and in teaching and learning, the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre strives for excellence, champions equity and serves our communities to the best of our ability. We cordially extend an invitation to individuals and institutions both within Australia and abroad to connect and collaborate with the Centre. Please contact our Director, Professor Seamus Fagan, with any enquiries you may have.