British universities to review international student admissions

London, Feb 5 – The international student admission process in the UK is set to be reviewed after accusations of universities lowering entry standards for foreign applicants who pay far higher tuition fees.

Universities UK, which represents 140 universities, announced a series of measures to review international foundation programmes and the use of recruitment agents employed to attract foreign students, The Guardian reported.

In addition to taking a review, the universities will also update their admissions code of practice “to clearly state its applicability to international students”.

The move comes after Higher Education Minister, Robert Halfon said in the House of Commons that he was “very disturbed” by a Sunday Times report that “clearly showed bad practice in the use of agents and that’s not acceptable”.

“While I am a strong supporter of international students, I want a level playing field for all domestic students as well,” Halfon said while taking up questions from the MPs last week.

After Halfon’s remarks, Vice Chancellors said they would work with the government to review the use of agents and make changes to “improve resilience and identify bad practice”.

According to the Times report, the University of York has told staff to be “more flexible” in admitting international students with lower-than-expected grades.

The Times investigation also recorded agents acting for universities such as Durham and Exeter claiming that international students with poor grades could easily gain entry via international foundation courses.

Denying the accusations, Durham University said in a statement that “entry requirements for international students who have completed international foundation years are benchmarked to ensure they are equivalent to those for home students entering with A-levels”.

Indians form a large chunk of international students coming to the UK with the Home Office reporting a substantial 54 per cent increase in the number of sponsored study visas granted to Indian students in 2023 compared to 2022.

It is anticipated that the number of Indian students enrolling in UK universities will cross three lakhs in the upcoming academic session. According to local media reports, the number of Indian students at Durham University, which was mentioned in the Sunday Times report, has grown by more than 200 per cent to 340 in the last four years.


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