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.


  1. UK universities are also somewhat dependent on the high fees that overseas students pay. They are a real cash cow.

    I teach English as a foreign language and am constantly amazed that students with the most basic English are offered unconditional places on masters and doctorate courses. Many of these students later have to abandon their studies as they do not have sufficient language skills.

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  3. Me and my (very intelligent) friend applied for a place at the same uni to study for an Msc in International Relations. I was lucky enough to be accepted but she did not get through (however, went on to study at another establishment and liked it better, so it all worked out for her.) What made me sick was that in my class about 50% were non-uk students (which I have no problem with, it is good to get lots of POVs in a subject like IR) but some of them could not even speak English. How could the uni justify letting them in and not my friend. £$££$£ - makes the world go around.

    Allowing students from abroad to study in the UK is not the issue, the issue is the vetting process and the follow up. Uni's who endorse applications and where it is apparent that students are not attending ought to be fined by the UKBA.