Investigation after story on overseas students’ grades (UK)

Cardiff University is investigating reports that a prospective Chinese student was told by a recruitment agent she could get a place at the institution despite having lower A-level grades than would be normal. The Daily Telegraph reports that an agent at Beijing-based Golden Arrow Consulting told undercover reporters representing a fictitious Chinese student it would be possible to study accounting or economics with three Cs at A level at Cardiff’s business school.

The normal entry requirement is AAB, the newspaper said.  The same advisor also told the undercover reporters that the fictitious student would be able to study business at the University of Sussex.  A spokeswoman for Cardiff said: “The alleged practices by the agency Golden Arrow misrepresent the university’s robust admission procedures.”  “Agents do not make admissions decisions. All decisions on eligibility for courses at Cardiff University are taken by the university itself,” she said.

Sussex told the Daily Telegraph that it made “no C, C, C offers whatsoever”.  Universities UK has issued its own response to the story.  Nicola Dandridge, chief executive, said: “Universities set entry requirements to courses but may deviate from these in certain circumstances. This would apply to UK, EU and non-EU students. “Universities will only recruit international students that they believe are genuine and are capable of completing the course,” she added.

The article quotes Richard Cairns, the headmaster of Brighton College, as claiming that it is harder for UK students to get into universities than international students, and that institutions were “increasingly searching for, and needing, overseas fees.”  Ms Dandridge said: “International students do not, and can not, displace home student places. UK student places are capped by government. “Universities recruit UK students up to those caps. If they exceed their allocation of home students they are fined. Recruitment of international students operates entirely outside these domestic limits,” she said.

Golden Arrow told the newspaper that it had “never” sent a student to Cardiff with three C grades at A level, but added that lower grades could be accepted through clearing at a number of high-ranking universities.

Source: Times Higher Education