Should students go for A-Levels or Foundation?

“The foundation programme here at Heriot-Watt University has given me a deeper understanding of certain subject areas; this has enabled me to get a glimpse of what certain careers would be like, thus preparing me for my career of choice.”

Nur Sabrina binti Ghazali, a first-year Foundation in Science student at the university, confidently believes that her choice to study at Heriot-Watt is an investment in her future. When asked about her career prospects after one year into her experience here, she enthused, “Education here in Heriot-Watt University isn’t ‘by the books’. We obtain additional skills while learning. Therefore, we aren’t as restricted in our career pathways. Coming from a renowned university that provides quality education also contributes to brighter career prospects.”

As Head of Malaysia Foundation Programme, Associate Professor Jasmine Low recently answered the age-old question: Should students go for A-Levels or a Foundation programme?

According to her, “The foundation programmes that we have at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia are specifically tailored to facilitate students’ seamless progress to our undergraduate degrees. They are designed to suit any of the undergraduate courses that we offer. For example, the Foundation in Science would prepare students for our Engineering and the other Bachelor of Science courses, while the Foundation in Business, which also incorporates Actuarial Science and Psychology pathways, allow students to progress directly into our Accounting and International Business Management degrees and more.

“This is in contrast to other pre-university programmes such as A-Levels, AUSMAT (Australian Matriculation) and SAM (South Australian Matriculation), which are more generic by nature. Those are usually run by external exam syndicates, whereas at Heriot-Watt, all coursework and final exams are internally set and externally moderated and examined following the stringent quality assurance processes of Heriot-Watt University and local regulatory bodies.”

With a focus on delivering excellent education, the university works closely with industry professionals to develop and accredit its curricula, ensuring that students will be well equipped to face the challenges of the ever-changing world and, ultimately, achieve their ambitions.

Associate Professor Jasmine explained, “The modules are supported by a team of experienced and qualified lecturers specialising in pre-university education. We place emphasis on the development of skills such as English literacy and critical thinking, which helps in the overall development of students toward becoming successful and employable graduates in the future. Furthermore, at Heriot-Watt, students will benefit from strong academic and personalised student support provided by experienced lecturers.”

Besides the academic aspect of the foundation programme, she added, “What we offer at the foundational level is also a learning experience necessary for students to adapt well to university life. We empower our students to be successful in their studies in terms of guidance and teaching methodology, in an environment engineered to facilitate their holistic growth.”

Being the world’s first mechanics institute, the university is pioneering the global educational landscape with world-class programmes enhanced with the university’s own Positive Education approach. According to Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi, CEO and Provost of Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, “We developed Positive Education in 2017 to direct focus at not only academic excellence but also the holistic development of individuals. Through Positive Education, we are nurturing purposeful, impactful, professional and resilient individuals.”

With positive education, focus is directed at the development of students’ emotional intelligence as they are taught coping strategies in managing their time effectively, cultivating a positive mindset, and developing self-confidence, interpersonal and communication skills and a sense purpose. These essential skills will go a long way in helping each individual progressing in their foundational studies thrive as they transition from school to university.

Heriot-Watt University Malaysia offers Foundation, Undergraduate and Postgraduate studies across various fields, including Actuarial Science, Accounting and Finance. The university specialises in the areas of engineering, business and psychology. Among other accolades, Heriot-Watt University is ranked 37th in the world, 13th in the UK and third in Scotland for international outlook by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019. With campuses located in the UK, Dubai and Malaysia, the university continues to facilitate access to a truly global education through the inculcation of a UK-benchmarked curriculum.

For more information on the Foundation programmes offered by Heriot-Watt University Malaysia as well as the relevant undergraduate or postgraduate courses and scholarships offered, visit its campus in Putrajaya during its Open Days or during consultation hours from 9am to 5pm on Mondays to Fridays and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays. Find out more at or call +603 8894 3888/e-mail

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