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Universities UK response to article on recruitment of international students on pathway courses

students stood in corridor

Responding to the Sunday Times article about the recruitment of international students on pathway courses, Vivienne Stern MBE, Chief Executive of Universities UK said

“International students do not reduce the number of places available to home students. Although the number of international students in our universities has risen, the number of places for home students has also increased. In fact, since universities in all parts of the UK lose money teaching home students, they need other sources of income to ensure that they can continue to increase home places. 

The UK a popular destination for international students due to the fact that they are internationally recognised for their high quality. The fact that our universities attract students from around the world is unequivocally a good thing. It is good for other students, who learn alongside peers from many other countries; it is good for universities, and it is good for the economies of towns and cities right across the UK. Overall, in 2021/22 international students contributed £42bn to the UK economy, and international education is one of the UK’s most successful export sectors.

International pathways are a small but important part of this picture. They support student success by helping prepare students coming into our universities from different education systems. They are not a guarantee of entry into a full degree. International students on pathway courses have to achieve the academic standards required to pass the course, and not all students manage this. Pathway providers report that, even after one year of intensive study, 20–25% of students do not progress from the pathway programme onto a full undergraduate programme at the partner university.

However, we recognise the importance of maintaining public confidence that the admissions system is fair and transparent, which is why we have commissioned an external review by the QAA into International Foundation Programmes and International Year One Programmes, including their entry requirements. This work is underway and will report in the coming months.”

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