The University of Southampton has tonight confirmed that it is investigating allegations that International students have been made offers of admission with considerably lower grades than those required by UK students.
A spokesman for the University stated that ‘international students were given the same offers as UK students’ and said ‘they would be investigating the allegations’ which come at a time when applications from home students are more competitive than ever before.
In an investigation by the Telegraph, to be published tomorrow, undercover reporters posing as overseas students contacted a Chinese agency who place students at British Universities. The ‘student’ claimed to have three Cs at A level and was told that they could be offered a place at two UK Universities; Cardiff and Sussex. Upon asking where they could study with three Bs, when applying through the agency in China, they were told the University of East Anglia or Southampton, where they would typically require three As to study.
The agency in question, “Golden Arrow” is accredited as one of 26 official representative of the University operating in China, and allegedly claims to be able to get preferential treatment for their students.
The University of Southampton estimates that there are currently “around 5000″ international students from 130 countries in attendance, however with no cap on fees for overseas students, they contribute £46million to the University’s finances, while the remaining 17,000 home students pay a total of £60million, meaning it may be in the interest of the University to increase their international student community as a method of increasing their income.
It is not clear how many international students may have gained admission to the University through Golden Arrow, or any other official representative agency, and of those how many have lower grades than would have been allowed for home students.
In addition to the concerns about the fairness of the admissions process, this has raised questions about the academic welfare of any students who were admitted with lower than the required grades, with one current UK student commenting “if they’re a ‘C [grade] student’, they will most likely struggle and undergo ridiculous amounts of stress to meet the expectation of a course that specified AAB”.
The Daily Telegraph has promised to expose further problems with the system later in the week, and hasn’t made it clear which Universities they will involve.
What do you think? Should the University be able to accept international students with lower grades to generate income?