There are 3 pathways for Chinese high school students to study in undergraduate courses in Australia. Two of them are transitional courses, Foundation and Diploma (Diploma courses, or freshman fast-track courses), as well as direct application to the Australian undergraduate course by using Chinese Gaokao result. 
Foundation Course, also known as the University Foundation Year or Bridging course, is a pre-university preparation course, usually one year. It is designed for international students who cannot meet the requirements for direct entry to Australian universities and is a bridging course for undergraduates. The pre-undergraduate preparation course is designed to allow international students to have a buffering process to adapt to university education before entering the undergraduate course. Almost all Australian universities are offering these preparation courses. Australia's undergraduate preparation course usually consists of two parts, one is English learning, and the other is specification learning. Students choose a preparation specialized course in the University Foundation Year, which is consistent with the specialization they want to take in undergraduate course. After completion of a one-year preparation course, international students can decide whether they can progress into the originally selected university based on their scores, or they can transfer to other, better universities according to their grades.
photo by monash university
Entry Requirement
 
Australian Year 11 or equivalent overseas qualification (Chinese high school graduation) or;
Students who completed year 11 or equivalent usually take a normal foudation course (1 year - 1 year and a half), while those who completed year 12 or equivalent usually take a fast-track foundation course (within 1 year).

 

Age Requirement

There is no legal minimum age requirement and there is no maximum age limit. However, according to Australian legal requirement, if students are under 18 when they come to Australia, they need have legal guardians in Australia before going abroad. If there is no guardian, need to stay in a school or government-designated homestay.

Why do Chinese high school graduates
need to take a foundation course?
The main reason for Chinese high school graduates to take a preparation course is that Australian universities has different education system with China.
 
Australian High school students start to decide direction of the specialization they are going to take in university from year 11 (equivalent to China’s high school second year), and from the second semester of year 11, including the entire year 12, they need to choose basic specialized courses according to their chosen direction. In this way, it will not only be beneficial for admission by universities, but also make a good preparation for future studies in universities.
Chinese high school students are going to attend Gaokao. In the first two years, students has completed the entire high school curriculum. And in the third year, students will spend all time to prepare for Gaokao, and it is not “linked” with future direction of study in universities. Therefore, Australian universities require Chinese high school graduates to take foundation course, in order to make preparation for future studies in universities. 
photo by gaokaozhiku.com
The advantages of taking foundation course
English Ability
 
Although most of our high school students have some English skills before go aboard, but it can be still not easy for them to study in an English environment in Australia. The professional vocabulary in textbooks can be very difficult to understand. Chinese students have been studying in China, and get used to think in Chinese way. To completely get used to English, it will take a period of time for formal training and adaptation.

 

Professional Ability

In addition to the English language courses, foundation courses also need to provide the most important and basic knowledge of university compulsory courses, such as studying a part of subjects such as advanced mathematics, accounting, and computers to prepare for university studies. Moreover, foundation course is an effective way to enter all undergraduate majors at Australia's famous universities, including majors such as law and medicine, which cannot be accessed by other students through other ways.

Acceptance Ability

There is a large difference between the Chinese secondary education system and the Australian higher education system, including the setting of subjects and the way of teaching. Chinese education is more likely to passively accept the knowledge provided by teachers, while foreign education allows students actively explores knowledge under the guidance of professors. Foundation course is a buffer period for students to prepare for adaptation, in order to better familiarize themselves with the characteristics of Western education and adapt to university life.

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