Russell Group response to Sunday Times article on recruitment of international students on pathway courses

17 March 2024

Commenting on reporting from the Sunday Times on the recruitment of international students on pathway courses (17 March 2024), a Russell Group spokesperson said:

"Our universities ensure all students – whatever their pathway to university – are at an appropriate standard to study, both on entry and throughout their course.

“For each degree programme, our universities have minimum entry requirements that are equivalent for all students, whether they are from the UK or abroad. There are no shortcuts to admission and completing an International Foundation programme does not guarantee entry onto a degree course. The progression rate of international students from a foundation year programme to a degree course at those Russell Group universities who run these programmes is typically around 70%.

“We welcome greater transparency of admissions processes and international pathway courses and are supporting the QAA review of these programmes.

“International students are an important part of the student body at our universities, helping to create a diverse learning environment. With growing shortfalls in the Government funding system for higher education, the resources they bring are also crucial in protecting course choice and the number of places available to UK undergraduates.”

Notes to editor

  • International students are not taking the places of domestic students. Indeed, despite the shortfalls in government funding for UK students, our universities have been able to grow the number of places for UK undergraduates over time because of the funding they receive from international student fees.
  • The Russell Group estimates that English universities supplemented the cost of undergraduate education by an average of £2,500 per student per year in 2022/23. Without a change in government policy and with fees capped at £9,250 per year, we conservatively project this to increase to £5,000 per student per year by 2029/30.

Our full briefing on international students and fair admissions is available online here.

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