University Investigates Allegations of Unfair Admissions Handling


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? 


Discussion13 Comments

  1. avatar

    I only got 2 B’s and C and southampton let me in no probs. I’d have gone to Exeter falmouth and become a pasty were it not for Soton so thank heavens for that. If universities can use high paying international students to subsidise and improve the provision for UK students, why not? There should be ample cash in the fees they pay to A) pile on a few extra staff to help the 3c international students pass and B) pay for the extra books history needs. (history always needs more books). Tell the torygraph to pipe down and stick to its liberal centre right agenda.


    I’m going to make a sweeping assumption that international students must come from relatively wealthy backgrounds in order to afford study at Southampton. UK students are more likely to have achieved higher grades if from a privately educated background, so if an international student was offered CCC and a UK student educated by the state wasn’t, then wouldn’t it set back social mobility?

  2. avatar

    I don’t think many would doubt that this University is corrupt. This just backs it up.

    tom west

    ‘Fill us in friend … ?

  3. avatar

    A simple example. Staff doing room inspections in halls have been heard to talk about failure targets. If you fail you have to pay a moderate fee to the University for a cleaner to clean your room.

    David Tully

    I can only speak for Monte but I never heard of contract cleaners being sent into a room. What I did hear about was people being given excessive chances for reinspection (far more than I’d have given them) until they passed.

  4. avatar
    David Cattermole

    One thing needs to be taken into account… Examinations in England compared to examinations in say china are ALOT easier in England than in some international countrys…
    Some people would be shocked to hear that an A at a level in say china is the equiliviant to first and second year of uni…
    English education really is shit…

    Matthew Higgins

    I know the English system is far from perfect, but it’s worth noting that a lot of international students intending to come here sit UK A levels first. Those that don’t will more likely do something like the IB.

    The University publishes the requirements for several other countries’ qualifications, in an attempt to make it fair, so if Chinese qualifications were harder, they would require a lower grade, and publish that.

    It appears as though the Telegraph are talking about someone having sat UK A levels, as a direct comparison is made.

  5. avatar
    Alexander James Green

    It is slightly improper that this occurs, yet as it allows our degrees to be cheaper/better funded (and the fact that most Universities do it), it is difficult to argue against. I think its a trade-off that most of us would accept.


    Or use some of the revenue to fund a cultural exchange to China for disadvantaged UK students that didn’t get in with C’s and B’s?

  6. avatar

    You’d apply as an international setdunt. They take about 6% of applicants you need very high grades in the hardest classes, very high test scores, and some way to make your application stand out. Yes, they offer the SAT all over the world, and you will need to take it.References :

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