Figures obtained by Gair Rhydd suggest that a disproportionate number of firm or clearing undergraduate course places were offered to international students last academic year at Cardiff University.
While 16% of UCAS firm or clearing offers were made to international students in 2014/15, only 11.5% of undergraduates in 2013/14 were international students.
This equates to a 4.5% difference between the proportion of international students studying one academic year and the proportion who received offers of study the next.
The University was named in a Daily Mail article on August 8th alleging that a number of Russell Group institutions reserve clearing spaces exclusively for international students for financial incentives.
The University confirmed to the Mail that is did reserve places only for students outside of the UK and EU, citing quotas: ”Some UK and EU numbers for particular courses are limited by quotas which Cardiff University cannot exceed.”
Speaking to Gair Rhydd, a Cardiff University spokesperson clarified these quotas, explaining that: “Some of the University’s courses are governed by professional, statutory and regulatory bodies, such as Pharmacy and Optometry, which have strict staff-to-student ratios that the University must abide by.”
The spokesperson went on to tell Gair Rhydd that “overall, in the entry year 2014/15 around 84% of offers were made to UK/EU students, and around 16% of offers were made to International students.
“These figures include all applications received via UCAS where a conditional or unconditional offer was made, including those offered via Clearing and Adjustment.”
UCAS processes applications for all undergraduate degree programmes at Cardiff, as well as one postgraduate degree, an MA in Social Work.
Figures from 2013/14 obtained from HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) show that of Cardiff’s 21,495 undergraduate students, just 2,470 were classed as international – equating to 11.5% of students.
International students, classed as those from outside of the United Kingdom and European Union, often have to pay thousands of pounds more than home students, with universities allowed to set fees to their liking.
Professor Alan Smithers of the University of Buckingham told the Mail that universities are able to charges international students fees to “cover the entire cost, perhaps with a bit of profit margin” of their degree programme.
Recently graduated Cardiff University student Sum Sze Tam told Gair Rhydd: “UK/EU (fees) were £9,000 to my £12-13,000 per year – and international students’ fees aren’t even fixed – universities raise it every year without telling prospective students.
“Mine went up £600 a year, and I know people whose fees went up by nigh on £1,000 a year!”
It has also emerged that a lower proportion of international students were offered places during clearing that through firm offers; the University spokesperson told Gair Rhydd that: “for the entry year 2014/15, 90% of Clearing offers were made to UK/EU applicants, and around 10% to international applicants.”