Many of Britain’s universities have been found to select overseas applicants over British students, with the large fees that can be charged to foreign applicants playing a part in the shift.
Some of the countries’ top higher learning institutions including Oxford and Cambridge, prefer to recruit foreign students with poorer qualifications to British ones, a Sunday Times study reports.
23 of the Sunday Times’s top 50 universities were found to have substantially cut British undergraduate numbers since 2008.
The number of British undergraduates across all universities has fallen since 2008, despite 17% more applications being made, while the numbers of non-EU students, who can pay up to four times more than British and EU ones, has risen by 39%.
The investigation revealed that thousands of overseas students are being granted ‘fast-track’ admissions to leading British universities without A-levels or equivalent qualifications from their own countries, only being required to complete short foundation courses lasting as little as six months.
The courses, which typically cost between £15,000 and £23,000, are offered by private companies that have struck partnership deals with dozens of universities and promise foreign students a ‘guaranteed’ university place upon completion.
‘Don’t meet the entry requirements to apply directly to university? We can help,’ states INTO, one of the companies offering the courses, and offers ‘100% guaranteed progression to university.’
Another company, Study Group, is also heavily promoted by its agents in Singapore as offering a ‘100% guaranteed University place.’
All Universities that cut British undergraduates with the exception of Oxford and Imperial College College London, admitted to taking in students via these short foundation courses.
Cambridge still require A-levels or an equivalent, but have cut British undergraduate numbers by 29%, while increasing their intake of non-EU graduates by 18%. British students doing first degrees at Oxford has decreased by 12.6%, while their intake of non-EU students was up 51%, the report disclosed.
Former education minister Lord Adonis said these findings were ‘crowding out British students’ and ‘betraying their mission,’ as top A-level pupils were being turned away.
“Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and the Russell Group should be widening access for more British young people, not turning them away,” he said.
Great that UK unis recruiting lots of overseas students but seriously wrong for them to cut back on places for well qualified U.K. students
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) August 6, 2017
Professor Alan Smithers of Buckingham University said: “There should as far as possible be equivalence between the requirements demanded of British and foreign students. If that is not the case, we’ve got a clear example of discrimination.
Exeter University, which has an INTO centre on campus, said: “An INTO qualification does not guarantee entry, [but] guarantees….a conditional offer of a place which will specify a level of attainment which prospective students must meet.”
Study Group runs similar centres with Durham, Sheffield, Lancaster, the University of Sussex and many other universities.
INTO and Study Group both said their centres were inspected and approved by the Quality Assurance Agency for higher education and by the universities they worked with.
A Study Group spokesman said: “Entry requirements are comparable to other foundation programs.”