This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of an undergraduate curriculum in developing its students into competent healthcare professionals, for whom professionalism demands a commitment to ongoing enquiry and lifelong learning (LLL). One factor influencing students’ confidence to undertake LLL is their belief in themselves as academic learners. An academic belief system (ABS) profile describes a learner's psychological approach to learning and may be compiled from the academic locus of control, academic self‐concept (ASC) and academic self‐esteem variables. Curricula have the potential to influence ABS development (both positively and negatively). Therefore, this study investigated the extent to which an undergraduate curriculum influenced the development of student academic belief systems over time. The study sample of 52 first‐year undergraduate students responded to a battery of ABS inventories on admission (take 1), 5 weeks prior to their first‐year progression examinations (take 2) and on return into year two (take 3). With the exception of academic locus of control and the anxiety dimension of ASC, all variable mean scores reduced over time. The fall in mean scores for the ASC dimensions of satisfaction and identification were significant. With higher education charged with preparing undergraduates for their lifelong learning needs, the inability of the first‐year curriculum to facilitate student ABS growth is discussed with respect to the need for future curriculum development.