SIE Foundation Year: why under-18s from all over the world choose Venice


Andrea Giselle is an 18-year-old from Honduras who dreams of studying biotechnology in Italy. She arrived in Venice a few days ago, along with 80 peers from all over the world, to participate in the Foundation Year 2021, which is organised by the School for International Education-Venice (SIE) at Ca' Foscari University of Venice.

“I decided to participate in the Foundation Year because I undestood how beneficial it would be, thanks to the intensive modules it is structured in,” says Andrea, who is currently taking a B1 level Italian language course at Ca' Foscari. “Learning Italian intensively and through in-depth lessons is a great opportunity for my future career. Plus, who wouldn't want to study in Venice?”

An international programme in Venice 

The Foundation Year is a one-year programme that prepares international students to enrol in bachelor’s degree programmes at Italian universities, by bridging the gap between secondary school and university. Ca' Foscari is one of the few Italian universities to offer this programme.

High school students from all over the world are attracted by the strong international vocation of Ca' Foscari, with its numerous courses taught in English, and by Venice, a city that is rich in art and culture.

The students who, like Andrea, are now enrolled in the Venetian university's programme are all aged 17 and over and come from almost 40 countries spread over 4 continents. About thirty of them have already arrived in the city to attend the programme which, in this first semester, takes place in dual mode (online and in person).

What the Foundation Year offers

The Foundation Year offers different learning paths or tracks: Economics and Management (five courses), Humanities and Arts (four courses), Science (four courses), Architecture, Art and Design in collaboration with IUAV University of Venice (five courses).

The programme also offers four options for studying languages: the teaching of basic Italian (up to a B1 level), an intensive Italian course for students with prior knowledge (up to a B2 level), a specific option for native speakers and the “international” option, entirely in English, but with some basic Italian expressions to facilitate daily interactions.

Although the interest in the study of the Italian language is growing especially for students with an interest in the humanities, the “international” option in English is very much appreciated by students and allows them to reach a B2 level to successfully attend the three-year courses in English offered by Ca' Foscari and other Italian universities.

This was the option chosen, for example, by Kelving Eusebio, who is 19 and comes from Mozambique

“I chose the Foundation Year so I could get off on the right foot with the Bachelor’s Degree Programme. I think it is an excellent opportunity to improve my academic skills, by acquiring argumentative and linguistic skills as well as developing effective study methods.

I chose Ca' Foscari because it is one of the few Italian universities that offer a Foundation Year programme. It is a fantastic programme because it allows you to improve your language skills not only through the courses of the various study tracks, but also with a language module that focuses specifically on the consolidation of English. The Foundation Year is also an opportunity to start learning Italian, which is a possibility that is not always offered in a three-year course or at universities in other countries. My first impression is that Italians place great value on their language and culture  — something which I find fascinating.”

Preparing students for their future 

Participants stay at university residences, such as that of Santa Marta, and are involved in sports and team-building activities in order to live the experience in an immersive environment, which allows them to become familiar with the Italian language and culture, as well as with the academic world.

During the programme, students are also guided to the discovery of the Italian university system and receive information on the enrolment procedures of the host universities.

Kelvin Eusebio is taking the track in Economics and Management: after completing the Foundation Year, he would like to study Business Administration and Management at Ca' Foscari.

“I chose to come to Venice because I have always wanted to study in Italy: I would like to work in the field of fashion and lifestyle management and Italy is the perfect country for this sector. More specifically, I would like to study Business Administration and Management, to learn how to organise and manage my own business.

Ca' Foscari is one of the best universities in Italy because it offers a variety of programmes, events, workshops and activities, as well as many international exchanges and partners. I have also noticed that there are a number of noteworthy alumni who are engaged in fields such as the one I am interested in. This encourages me to pursue the career of my dreams: I would really like to start a lifestyle company to sell clothes, household items, and furniture. I would like to live in Europe, but I also want to contribute to the development of my country someday. This is why I am here: for the high quality of the education system; to gain experience; to learn, and then take what I have acquired back to my country. In fact, in Mozambique we do not have any luxury brands — most of those I know are Italian, so Italy is the best option for my studies and I am really happy with the choice I have made.”

Federica Biscardi