The Academic Foundation Year


The Academic Foundation Year

About the Academic Foundation Year

The Academic Foundation Year:

  • is a one-year certificate program that equips motivated students with the skills, tools  and capabilities to seek successful entry into higher education programs.
  • provides an academic entry pathway to first year undergraduate study or its equivalent.
  • offers learning opportunities that maximize student engagement and provides opportunities for regular feedback on student progress.

The Academic Foundation Year has been created with the purpose of serving as a bridge between high school and university.

Quick info
Duration: 1 year
Course load: 60EC
Language of instruction : Dutch/English

Program Overview

The Academic Foundation Year is offered at a HBO propaedeutic level. The program is divided into four pillars:

  • Coaching and counseling program: students are guided and coached extensively in order to assist them in deciding on future study plans and career paths.
  • Academic core program: students will be introduced to academic principles and working methods to enhance their critical thinking skills.
  • Language skills program: Students will take language and writing courses in which they will enhance their academic writing, speaking, and communication skills.
  • Academic orientation program: students are encouraged to create a curriculum for themselves that reflects their interests. In order to gain insight into different disciplines, students may choose subjects from the various study programs offered at the University of Aruba.

Participants in the program are offered international orientation and intercultural understanding through collaboration with international exchange students and through teaching and seminars by international visiting scholars.


Graduates and participants of the program:

  • will have oriented themselves on their academic career and will be able to make a motivated choice for further studies.
  • will have acquired a knowledge base and skills in multi- and interdisciplinary thinking and will have acquired communication skills to such an extent that they are capable of presenting ideas in written and spoken form in a clear and effective way.
  • will have the ability to gain and apply new knowledge independently and will have the skills to work productively in teams.
  • know how to support research programs and have actively participated in field research practice and in research design.
Admission requirements

In order to be admitted to the Academic Foundation year, prospective students must be in possession of one of the following:

  • HAVO/VWO diploma
  • MBO (EPI) diploma niveau 4
  • International School of Aruba diploma
  • Ibero American High school diploma

Only candidates that have recently completed their last final degree are eligible for participation in the program. Candidates that have left their secondary education for more than one year will not be eligible for participation.

Learning at the Academic Foundation Year

What structure do we use to teach our students?

The Academic Foundation Year is comprised of four learning tracks: the coaching and counseling program, an academic core program, language skills program, and an academic orientation program.

All the courses in these tracks follow a standard structure, and are based on a few guiding principles. They are all focused on exposing students to a broad palette of experiences leading to successful academic learning. Our courses offer:

  • a fundamental and structured insight in the basic theory or practice of the topic of the course;
  • a diversification of the basic theory or practice of the topic through case studies;
  • the possibility to gain experience in solving challenges in a specific field through step by step guided case studies;
  • the possibility for students to produce a collective or individual deliverable;
  • a diversity of assessment methods, meaning our students will be prepared for different examination protocols;
  • exposure to co-teaching, visiting scholars and guest lecturers.

This is how an ideal course is build at AFY:

Meeting 1 Meeting 2
WEEK 1 Orientation on the module Basic principles
WEEK 2 Basic principles Basic principles
WEEK 3 Basic principles Preparation for guest seminar
WEEK 4 Guest Seminar or
Guest lectures
Guest seminar or
Guest lectures
WEEK 5 Guest seminar or
Guest lectures
Guest seminar or
Guest lectures
WEEK 6 Applied practice: case study/case studies
WEEK 7 Applied practice: case study/case studies
WEEK 8 Applied practice: final preparation of deliverables
WEEK 9 Deliverables (symposium or poster presentations plus feedback) Oral or written final test
WEEK 10 Buffer week

How do we teach our students?


Online registration
May 15 – July 15

Contact info

For more information on the program contact or call 5262200 and ask for the Office of Students Affairs.


Program core modules

Year overview 2016-2017

The inverted or flipped classroom is the standard for the Academic Foundation Year. The flipped classroom is an instructional model and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional learning environment. By delivering instructional content, for example a short video lecture outside of the classroom, students get the chance to work on exercises and carry out research at home. The classes will have more impact as they will be used as a moment to engage in concepts and discussion under the guidance of our (guest) lecturers. This model helps students develop the study skills they will need when entering higher education.

Each week of a module will contain two sessions of four hours each: the plenary and the break-out.

Each plenary starts off with a one hour lecture by the lecturer in which the lecturer explains one topic of study in the field of the module. This one hour lecture ends with a study assignment: students have to study prescribed literature or internet based materials or audiovisual materials that help the students understand the course content – possibly helped by guiding questions.This part of the session takes two hours. During these two hours students are free to organize their own time, the lecturer is present for possible questions and guidance. The fourth and final hour is devoted to feedback, discussion and reflection. Upon returning in class the students participate in a digital quiz that gauges the extent of the knowledge and insights the students have gathered during the first three hours of the session. The rest of the last hour is devoted to a review of these materials that have not been fully understood or have been misinterpreted by the students. We finish the classes with a discussion of the relevance and applicability of the content of the session.

The second session of each week follows a different pattern. During the first (half) hour of the break-out the lecturer provides several examples of challenges that can be solved using the materials from the first session of that week. This first part ends with an assignment of sufficient complexity that challenges students to apply their knowledge to practice and to independently or collectively find additional solutions for the problems presented to them. This also means that the students will have to find literature or resources to finalize the assignment. This session ends with a collective review session in which students present their solutions to each other and give arguments for their point of view. This may be done in debate, discussion, digital forum or any other method that fits the content of the break-out.

Example of a 4 hour session based on the flipped classroom model

Duration Activity
1 hour Introduction
2 hours independent/peer learning and/or small group work
1 hour quiz/discussion/reflection
Lecturer has 2  teaching hours and 2 coaching hours per session

We believe in student centered learning and apply it in all our courses. We cater to the distinct learning needs, strengths, passions, backgrounds and aspirations of our individual students. Opportunities abound for our students to choose a part of their curriculum or to choose their own research topic in our academic core programs. We focus on the development of the independent student who can make a motivated study and career choice based on experience, insight and self-reflection.


The program consists of a 40 credits core program and 20 credits for electives. The electives allow you to experiment with your interest.

  • Collective core program (5 credits each, 40 credits total)

    All students that register for the program will participate in the following core modules:

    1. Coaching & counseling
    2. Higher Education Skills
    3. English proficiency, academic writing and academic speaking
    4. Dutch proficiency, academic writing and academic speaking
    5. Context, culture and history
    6. Research foundations
    7. Research practice
    8. Research reporting
  • Electives (20 credits total)

    Participants in the program will complete 20 credits in electives from the existing UA-programs, on-line courses and/or the 5 credit electives offered by the Academic Foundation Year

    • Communication: principles of human interaction
    • Introduction to earth and environment
    • Introduction to technology and engineering
    • Mathematics and calculus
    • Papiamento: linguistics
    • Spanish: proficiency
    • Free electives for AFY: moocs, internships and apprenticeships
  • Successful Program Completion

    All courses offered by the program will be assessed on the basis of a combination of two or more of the following assessment methods: participation, peer review, project reports, project presentations, essays, written tests, oral tests, or portfolio.

    All courses offered by the faculties of the UA will be assessed according to the guidelines provided by these faculties.

    To successfully complete the program, participants need to have an average passing grade and can only fail for two courses. Failure to attend to at least 80% of class meetings for modules of the collective core program will be considered failure to complete a course.