The long-standing suspicion that universities accept international students with weak qualifications to boost their income appears to be unfounded, according to research by Times Higher Education. At some institutions, such as the highly international London School of Economics, it is British students who have fewer tariff points. The issue flared up last summer after a newspaper sting found a Beijing agent promising low entry grades to Chinese students.
This prompted David Willetts, the universities and science minister, to warn the sector not to admit those “who cannot cope or who slow down their fellow students”. But according to data obtained from the student guidance website BestCourse4me, on half the 374 undergraduate courses with the largest intakes in 2010-11, non-UK students had more Ucas tariff points than their British counterparts.
Anna Vignoles, professor of education at the University of Cambridge, said there had “always been an assumption that foreign students are coming in with lower grades”. But the data indicated that this was a “myth”, she said.