Recruitment Concerns Prompt UK Universities to Review International Student Admissions

United Kingdom Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Feb 06, 2024

influx of people in the United Kingdom

Universities in the United Kingdom are set to review the admission process of international students following concerns about their recruitment.

The decision follows claims that universities have lowered the bar to accept international students because the latter pay higher tuition fees, Erudera News reports.

Universities UK, the organization representing 142 institutions, issued a statement saying that students, families, and the government should believe that the system is fair and transparent.

“There has been a significant focus on recruitment practices relating to international students in recent weeks. While many aspects of the reporting misrepresented the admissions process and criteria, it is vital that students, their families, and government have confidence that the system is fair, transparent, and robust,” Universities UK said.

The Universities UK Board has agreed to take the following steps immediately:

  • Review the Agent Quality Framework (AQF) and propose enhancing the system.
  • Review the quality and comparability of International Foundation Programmes (IFPs) and Foundation Programmes for UK students.
  • Update the Admissions Code of Practice to evaluate where the Code applies to international student recruitment.

Recently, universities in the country have been accused of admitting international students with lower grades than local students.

These claims were rejected by Durham University, which said that entry requirements for international students completing international foundation years are evaluated to be equivalent to those for UK students.

Foundation years are one-year course designed to provide academic preparation to international students before starting an undergraduate course.

The discussion started after the Sunday Times reported that international students had used secret entry routes to secure a spot at one of the Russell Group research universities.

However, a spokesperson for the Russell Group universities said the number of local students has been increasing faster than that of international students.

Responding to the Sunday Times report, Vivienne Stern MBE, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said the article fails to make a difference between entry requirements and foundation years.

“International Foundation Years are designed to prepare students to apply for full degree programmes. They do not guarantee entry to them. They are designed for students who come from different education systems where, in many cases, students might have completed 12 rather than 13 years of education,” she said.

British universities receive more income from international students as their tuition fees are not subject to the same caps as those of local students.

The highest amount that a local student pays annually for undergraduate studies is £9,250, while international students pay £38,000 in a year for undergraduate courses and £30,000 per year for postgraduate courses.

The UK government has previously set a target of hosting 600,000 international students by 2030. So far, the country has exceeded this target two times.

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