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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bums on seats

Following the arrest of the Pakistani nationals who entered the UK on student visas they've been talking on the radio about ways of ensuring that only bona fide applicants are accepted by our universities. Unless I was mishearing, somebody was actually suggesting that British academics should go out to Pakistan to interview potential students there. That may or may not be practical. But if they do introduce such a procedure they should prepare themselves for some pressure closer to home from people who wonder why, with the exception of an elite handful of universities and in the case of certain courses, most British students turn up to their first day at university never having been interviewed by anyone at all. When the percentage of 18-year-olds going to university was quite small most students were selected on the basis of grades and at least one interview. Now that we're heading for fifty per cent they don't think that a face-to-face meeting matters at all. Maybe that's one of the reasons a quarter of them don't complete their courses.