15 August 2005
UCL's University Preparatory Certificate for Science and Engineering (UPSCE) was launched in September 2002, and over the last three years more than 100 international students have studied on the course in preparation for undergraduate study in science and engineering subjects in top ranking universities in the UK, including UCL.
The course has been designed specifically for international students who have followed a 12-year education system in their own country, and who do not speak English as a first language. All UPSCE students study two core science units, science and society and academic English. Knowledge and understanding in the sciences is developed to at least UK A-level standard, and beyond this in mathematics and physics.
Throughout the course students are encouraged to improve their fluency in English through academic English and integrated English support classes, while also developing skills in scientific report writing and in delivering scientific presentations on independently researched science projects. An important aspect of the UPSCE is the development of good laboratory skills which many international students have had little experience of during their secondary education.
All teaching is done within UCL by a team of highly experienced A-level science teachers and English language specialists, and helps students to bridge the gap between high school and university. A high level of pastoral and academic support is provided to students who join the course from a wide variety of cultural and academic backgrounds. Helping students to adapt and successfully enter the British higher education system is a key feature of the course.
UPCSE Programme Coordinator Dr Craig Davidson commented: "The course aims to provide students with the academic, critical thinking, practical and laboratory skills, as well as English language skills they will need to be successful on an undergraduate degree programme at leading universities in the UK. It also helps them assimilate to university life by experiencing what it's like on campus."
Mr Saman Dallali came from Iran in 2003 to enrol on the UPCSE. He has recently completed the first year of his undergraduate degree in Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at UCL. "My father enjoyed studying in London, and I wanted to come to UCL after hearing his experiences. I was surprised by the small class sizes - sometimes six students to one tutor - and I found the tutors to be very good and highly skilled in their field," explains Saman. "I have a few friends who studied A-levels and I found that the UPCSE reaches a higher level, especially by including subjects such as Social Science and English, which have really helped with my lab reports. I feel the programme prepared me well for my degree studies and I appreciated the help on interview skills and filling out UCAS applications."
Image: Saman Dallali