Mohammed Alsaﬁ studied on our IFP in 2017/18 and won the Academic Excellence Prize at the end of the course. He is now studying a BA Hons in Architecture at Kent. Here, he shares his experience of the IFP from application to completion and highlights the modules which helped him most with the transition to study at degree level.
My name is Mohammed Alsaﬁ, I am from Saudi Arabia and I was a student in the International Foundation Programme in 2017/18 – one of the pivotal chapters of my academic experience thus far. I hope this reﬂection on my journey helps any uncertain student in making their decision about joining the International Foundation Programme or the University of Kent itself.
I graduated from school a year early after completing my AS levels, knowing it is more convenient to spend a preparatory year in the university where I aimed to study my undergraduate course. I began applying through the University of Kent website – which was a surprisingly manageable process in comparison to other application methods. The Centre for English and World Languages team were extremely patient and helpful with my constant phone calls from Saudi Arabia, answering queries about [everything from] accommodation to timetables.
I joined the University in September 2017, living alone for the ﬁrst time and being completely independent. The modules I was registered in were Art & Design, Mathematics and Statistics, Academic Skills Development and the Foundation Project. Although slightly challenging at ﬁrst, I found the Academic Skills Development and Foundation Project to be the most useful to this current day. It is extremely helpful to be taught how to write in the style your university expects. As a result of my foundation year, I found writing my ﬁrst essay this academic year much less challenging because I was familiar with the referencing style and plagiarism precautions this university prioritises.
Art & Design is another module that contributed to a smooth transition to my ﬁrst year. After a year of working in the workshop, presenting my sheets and building relationships with staff, I was no stranger to the Marlowe Building, workshop or staff this time around. I found being familiar with my learning environment extremely comforting and reassuring, because I did not have to adjust to any major changes. I highly recommend joining the International Foundation Programme to any student that struggles with change or experiences stress in unfamiliar environments.
Additionally, working closely with University of Kent teachers familiarised me with the teaching style and learning approach in the University. I managed to grasp the concept of a ‘crit’ where I pinned up my work and was given feedback on mostly what to improve instead of what I did right. Receiving constructive criticism on work you possibly lost sleep on could be difﬁcult to accept at ﬁrst, but is deﬁnitely beneﬁcial in the long run. This changed my thinking process as a student, where I began to consider any faults in my design and work on them before they were pointed out to me. This is another learning criteria I have ensured to follow now [that I am] studying architecture.
Overall, I genuinely recommend joining the International Foundation Programme, as I am an example of a student who is still beneﬁtting from it to this day. I struggled with being homesick a lot at ﬁrst but I only grew more comfortable and familiar [with] the University as time passed. Making friends in the foundation year and experiencing the ﬁrst year of BA Architecture also made it much more enjoyable.
If you would like more information about the International Foundation Programme at the University of Kent, please visit our website or if you would like to contact us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org