I started teaching for the Open University soon after completing my M.A. at the University of York. Since then I have taught in a variety of FE/HE settings and spent several years as a senior manager in a large sixth-form college. Having taught a variety of subjects at Access and A-Level I was keen to lend my experience to the Foundation Year in Business and Economics at the University of Surrey where I now teach full-time.
This paper discusses the establishment of two new foundation year programmes at the University of Surrey; one in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the other in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Specifically, it explores how the programmes have been constructed and how programme teams have attempted to avoid the ‘deficit model’ by adopting a student-centred approach that focuses on the development of successful students when considering staffing expertise and curriculum design. This is followed by an exploration of staff and student perspectives on what constitutes a successful foundation year student. Finally, the paper comments on how success will be measured in the future, suggesting that, whilst specific metrics might serve as indicators of success, no single metric is likely to capture the complicated nature of what success is and what it looks like for the individuals we teach. Overall, the paper suggests that the question, ‘What is a successful foundation year student?’ should be considered carefully in the process of designing and developing foundation year programmes.