Prepping For Uni-Life: Explore Alternative Gateways To Enrolling In A University

Apr, 03 2023

Choosing the right pathway to your dream degree can be challenging for many students. Whether improving your English language proficiency, enhancing your study skills, or gaining specialist subject knowledge, alternative gateways to enrolling in a university can offer a valuable and worthwhile experience.

One such alternative gateway is De Montfort University (DMU) Dubai's International Year Zero (IYZ) foundation course. The IYZ provides specialist pathways into DMU Dubai's degree programmes, including business and law, social science, engineering, computing, and art and design. 

Choosing the Right Pathway for You: Factors to Consider

Here are some key factors to consider when deciding which pathway best fits you.

Your Interests and Career Goals

Your interests and career goals are the first and most important factors to consider when choosing a pathway. Think about what you are passionate about and want to achieve in your career. If you are interested in business and law, then the Business and Law Pathway may be the right choice. If you are passionate about art and design, then the Art and Design Pathway may be the perfect fit. Take the time to explore your options and choose a pathway that aligns with your interests and future aspirations.

Your Academic Background and Abilities

Another important factor to consider when choosing a pathway is your academic background and abilities. Some pathways, such as the Engineering Pathway, may require a strong background in mathematics and science. If you are interested in the Social Science Pathway, you should have a psychology or social sciences background. Consider your academic strengths and weaknesses when choosing a pathway and ensure you are confident in your ability to succeed in the courses.

English Language Proficiency

As most pathways require English language proficiency, it is essential to consider your level of proficiency when choosing a pathway. The International Year Zero at DMU Dubai offers the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) curriculum, which helps students to achieve a minimum 6.0 (6.5 for Psychology) equivalent IELTS score to progress to their degrees. Choose a pathway that aligns with your English language proficiency level and ensures you can keep up with the course content.

Campus Life and Support

Finally, consider the campus life and support available for each pathway. DMU Dubai offers a diverse community of students worldwide, with various support services, including academic support, career services, and student clubs and organisations. Research the campus life and support available for each pathway and choose one that aligns with your personal and academic goals.

Preparing for University-Level Study: What to Expect

Transitioning from high school to university-level study can be challenging, but with the right preparation and mindset, you can be successful. Here are some things to expect when preparing for university-level study:

Academic Rigor

The university-level study is academically challenging, and you should be prepared to work hard to achieve your academic goals. You will need to devote more time to studying and coursework and be expected to participate in discussions and debates.


The university-level study requires self-motivation, as you will manage your time and prioritise your workload. You should be prepared to take responsibility for your academic progress and seek help when necessary.

Independent Learning

The university-level study is characterised by independent learning, which means that you will be expected to conduct research, analyse information, and conclude independently. You must learn to manage your time effectively and develop study habits that work best for you.

Time Management

Effective time management is crucial for success in university-level study. You must balance your academic workload with other commitments, such as work and social activities. You should learn to plan your time effectively and avoid procrastination.

Feedback and Assessment

The university-level study involves a different approach to feedback and assessment than high school. You will receive regular feedback on your coursework, but you should be prepared to take a more critical and analytical approach to feedback. You will be assessed through various formative and summative assessments, including essays, exams, and presentations.

Benefits of the International Year Zero Foundation Course

The IYZ is a gateway programme to prepare students to enter their chosen undergraduate degree by developing their English language proficiency, study skills, and specialist subject knowledge. 

Firm Foundation in a Discipline

For students new to a discipline, the IYZ curriculum provides a firm foundation to build key skills and the portfolio of work necessary for successful progression and entry into their chosen undergraduate programme. For students with more experience in their chosen degree discipline, the curriculum consolidates and augments their knowledge and skills.

Innovative Teaching and Learning

The programme offers innovative teaching and learning, with specialist pathways into various subject areas. The teaching staff for specialist areas will also teach about the degrees, providing IYZ students with a strong link to their destination departments and the campus.

Unique English Curriculum

The English (EAP) curriculum focuses on acquiring language skills and discipline-specific knowledge. The curriculum is designed uniquely and focused on the UN Sustainability Goals (SDGs). De Montfort University is Britain's only higher education institution to be a global hub for one of the Sustainable Development Goals –SDG 16 to promote peace, justice and strong institutions.

Diverse Student Community

The diverse community of students provides a unique opportunity for wider networks and broader cultural perspectives during the IYZ year and its graduates' subsequent degrees and careers.

Specialist Pathways

One of the key advantages of the IYZ programme is the range of specialist pathways available to students. The curriculum of each pathway is designed to equip students with the necessary English language proficiency, study skills, and specialised subject knowledge required for admission to their desired undergraduate degree programme. Let's take a closer look at some of the specialist pathways available:

Art and Design Pathway

The Art and Design pathway provides students with a broad, creative skillset that will enhance their creative potential in readiness for their degree. A series of technical and creative tasks provide students with the tools and perspectives to develop a personal, creative portfolio.

Business and Law Pathway

The Business and Law pathway boosts students' confidence and prepares them for academic writing, numeracy and presentation skills. The provision of formative and summative assessments prepares students to understand different types of assessments.

Engineering Pathway

The Engineering pathway gives students the core science, mathematics, design, and IT skills required to study engineering or physics at the undergraduate level. During the second term, students will undertake the specialist Engineering module, which offers them a choice between Electrical and Electronic Engineering or Mechanical Engineering.

Computing Pathway

The Computing pathway provides students with core skills in mathematics and IT required to study computing at the undergraduate level. A range of formative and summative assessments supports and demonstrates students’ learning.

Social Science Pathway

The Social Science pathway is an excellent choice for students interested in understanding human behaviour, society and culture. In this pathway, you will explore how theory and research inform psychology and learn about basic research methods and related issues such as ethics. You will comprehensively understand human behaviour and thought processes and develop the skills necessary for data analysis and interpretation.

Build your Skills and Confidence with a Foundation Programme

Gain a Head Start on University Life

Attending university is a big step for many students, and it can be daunting to start a degree programme without prior knowledge of the subject matter. A foundation programme can give students a head start and a smoother transition to university life. The IYZ programme at DMU Dubai is designed to help students develop the necessary academic, language, and study skills to succeed in their chosen degree programme.

Explore Different Pathways to University

Choosing the right degree programme can be challenging for many students. At DMU Dubai, students can choose from various pathways, including Business and Law, Social Science, Engineering, Computing, and Art and Design. Each pathway has a tailored curriculum that prepares students for entry into their chosen undergraduate programme and allows them to develop specialist subject knowledge and skills.

Develop Soft Skills

The university is more than just acquiring knowledge in a specific subject area. It is also about developing soft skills essential for success in any field. Soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management are critical to thriving in university and beyond. DMU Dubai's IYZ foundation course offers a curriculum that will help you develop these skills and prepare you for the challenges of your degree and future success.

Experience a Diverse and Inclusive Learning Environment

Connect with Peers from Different Backgrounds

University is a melting pot of cultures and ideas, and a foundation programme can be an excellent way to experience a diverse and inclusive learning environment. DMU Dubai welcomes students from all backgrounds and cultures, and the IYZ programme provides a unique opportunity for students to connect with their peers and build broader cultural perspectives. 

Get Familiar with the Campus and Teaching Methods

Another benefit of attending a foundation programme is familiarity with the campus and teaching methods. The IYZ programme at DMU Dubai allows students to familiarise themselves with the university's approaches to teaching, feedback, and assessment. By doing so, students can better understand the expectations and challenges of university life and prepare themselves for success in their chosen undergraduate programme.

Take Advantage of Student Resources

As a university student, you will have access to various resources that can help support your academic and personal growth. DMU Dubai provides various support services to help students succeed, including academic advising, career services, mental health resources, and more. Make sure to take advantage of these resources to ensure you have a successful and enjoyable university experience.

Improve Your Language Proficiency

Achieve an Equivalent IELTS Score

For international students, language proficiency can be a significant barrier to success in a degree programme. A foundation programme can give students the necessary language skills to communicate effectively and succeed academically. At DMU Dubai, students on the IYZ programme will study English for Academic Purposes (EAP) to achieve a minimum 6.0 (6.5 for Psychology) equivalent IELTS score to progress to their degrees. 

Enhance Your Employability

Language proficiency is essential for academic success and a key employability skill. Many employers require candidates with strong language skills, especially in international companies. You can enhance your employability and career prospects by improving your language proficiency through a foundation programme. The IYZ programme at DMU Dubai provides students with the necessary language skills and discipline-specific knowledge, making them more competitive in the job market.

Building a Strong Portfolio: Tips and Tricks

A portfolio is a collection of your best work and an essential component of many pathway programmes, especially for art and design students. A strong portfolio showcases your skills, creativity, and potential to future employers or universities.

Here are some tips and tricks to build a strong portfolio:

  1. Take Advantage of Technical and Creative Tasks: Your pathway programme will provide you with the skills and perspectives needed to develop a personal, creative portfolio. Make the most of the technical and creative tasks provided to you by your teachers and use them to showcase your skills.
  2. Seek Feedback and Guidance: Feedback and guidance from your teachers and peers can greatly improve your portfolio. Be open to suggestions and constructive criticism, and take steps to incorporate them into your work.
  3. Research Successful Portfolios: Look for successful portfolios in your chosen field, and take inspiration from them. You can find these portfolios online or in person at art galleries or design events.
  4. Showcase a Variety of Work: A diverse portfolio showcases your skills and creativity. Include work demonstrating your proficiency in different mediums, techniques, and styles.
  5. Keep Your Portfolio Up to Date: Your portfolio should always be a work in progress. Continuously update it with new work, and remove older pieces that no longer represent your current skill level or style.

Final Thoughts

There are many alternative pathways to university enrollment, each with unique benefits and opportunities. The DMU Dubai pathway programmes offer a wide range of specialist pathways in business and law, social science, engineering, computing, and art and design, providing students with a strong foundation to prepare them for their undergraduate degree programmes.

By choosing the right pathway, students can build their skills, knowledge, and confidence and gain a competitive edge in the job market. They can also develop a strong network of peers, mentors, and professionals in their chosen field.

It is important to remember that university-level study requires high commitment, hard work, and dedication. However, students can achieve their goals and reach their full potential by understanding what to expect and taking advantage of available resources and support.