Better pathways to success? – A study of foundation studies alumni

Dr Ian Teo1,2, Associate Professor Shanton Chang3

1Trinity College, The University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia, 2Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia, 3Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

Foundation studies (or pathways) programmes (FSPs) seek to prepare international students for their transition into university by providing bridging courses to meet their academic, sociocultural and personal needs. According to StudyPortals and Cambridge English (2016), the growth of such programmes over the previous decade has boomed to over 1,000 English-medium providers worldwide and has been valued at $1.4 billion with no indication of slowing down. While these programmes serve an instrumental purpose in terms of providing international students with a pathway into university, it has become clear that these students seek more than just a qualification by the end of their sojourn, and value also the quality of their broader relationships, preparation, and participation at university (Teo, 2016). For more than 25-years, Trinity College Foundation Studies (TCFS) in Melbourne has served to prepare international students for their higher education studies. The present study will report on quantitative and qualitative data derived from TCFS alumni who were surveyed at the start of 2017. In particular, two branches of alumni-related expectations and experiences will be addressed. First, findings involving the types of supports they sought during and after university, and the ways in which they wished to reconnect with TCFS will be described. Second, the types of extra-curricula activities respondents reflected upon as being important for their broader welfare or well-being while enrolled as foundation students will also be discussed. Implications and recommendations relating to the aforementioned data will subsequently be presented.


Ian has been working within the Trinity College Foundation Studies since 2004. For much of this time he taught as a Psychology lecturer within this program while pursuing postgraduate qualifications in Higher Education. His PhD thesis, “Transitioning from a Chinese education to an Australia education – A study of FSP students”, emphasised the critical role that the social dimension has in shaping international students’ university experiences. Since 2016, Ian has transitioned into the role of Research Coordinator: Foundation Studies Program to further investigate issues relating to international education and provide research support for Trinity College staff.


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education.

For more information, please visit ANZSSA website by


ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

For more information, please visit the ISANA website at

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.