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UUK reviews student recruitment after Sunday Times reports


Universities UK to look into admissions standards for foundation courses

Universities UK has launched a review of university admissions practices after a Sunday Times investigation alleged that institutions were offering places to international students with lower entry grades than their UK-based counterparts.

Recent articles in the Sunday Times claimed that institutions were prioritising the recruitment of overseas students because universities can charge them higher tuition fees. But critics—including UUK—have questioned aspects of the investigation.

UUK pointed out that the newspaper articles compare entry grades for pre-degree foundation courses, which are aimed at students who need extra tuition before starting an undergraduate programme, with entry grades for full degrees. 

Nonetheless, the vice-chancellors’ group pledged to look at institutional recruitment processes.

UUK will assess the quality and comparability of international foundation programmes with those for domestic students, it announced on 2 February.

The group said it would commission the Quality Assurance Agency to undertake “a rapid review” of these programmes, and would also review the Agent Quality Framework, which seeks to monitor and ensure the quality of international recruitment agents with which universities work.

If it is deemed necessary, UUK said it would update the Admissions Code of Practice to “clearly state its applicability to international recruitment”.

“There has been a significant focus on recruitment practices relating to international students in recent weeks,” the UUK board said in a statement.

“While many aspects of the reporting misrepresented the admissions process and criteria, it is vital that students, their families and government have confidence that the system is fair, transparent and robust.”

Last week, the government said that it too was launching an investigation into recruitment practices following the Sunday Times reports.