Overseas students are being used as cash cows, whose English is so bad they 'wouldn't scrape a GCSE', says leading professor
- 'Universities cover up problems as they need cash'
- Academics earn 'tidy sums' to help foreign students
- Comments made by Warwick University professor
Making her point: Susan Bassnett is emeritus professor of comparative literature at Warwick University
Universities are recruiting foreign students whose grasp of English is so poor they ‘wouldn't scrape a GCSE', according to a professor.
International students are seen as ‘cash cows' by institutions, which have colluded to cover up problems because they are dependent on the money they bring in, claims Professor Susan Bassnett.
The former pro-vice chancellor of Warwick University says some academics even earn ‘tidy little sums on the side' assisting students with ‘inadequate command of English' to produce essays.
Her comments come a month after the UK Border Agency banned London Metropolitan University from sponsoring international students after finding a quarter of those sampled did not have permission to stay in the UK.
The university disputes the allegations and essaytyper is mounting a legal challenge.
But Professor Bassnett, the emeritus professor of comparative literature at Warwick, suggested the scandal was only the tip of the iceberg and London Met had ‘been made the scapegoat' for a much wider problem.
In comparison: While British students pay up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees, foreign students on the same course can be charged up to £20,000
While British students pay up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees, foreign students on the same course can be charged up to £20,000.
Professor Bassnett, who has also been an external examiner for the University of Limerick, said she had often marked scripts from foreign students with little grasp of English.
'I am not the only academic to have acted as an external examiner, assessor or auditor in the sector and to have seen scripts in English so poor that the students wouldn't scrape a GCSE'
Professor Susan Bassnett
‘We have all seen the way in which international students with poor qualifications have been recruited as cash cows for years now,' she wrote in the Times Higher Education magazine.
‘I am not the only academic to have acted as an external examiner, assessor or auditor in the sector and to have seen scripts in English so poor that the students wouldn't scrape a GCSE.'
Students from outside the EU must take English ability tests but Professor Bassnett said pressure to boost student numbers meant strict selection criteria were not always observed.
‘Universities have colluded with this situation for years and successive governments have turned a blind eye because it has enabled them to continue to cut higher education funding,' she said.
A Warwick University spokesman said last night that applicants needed ‘exceedingly high qualifications', regardless of where they come from.