UK varsities accused of using 'under-qualified' overseas students as 'cash cows'
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Overseas students with poor qualifications are being used by UK universities as 'cash cows' to fill holes in the higher education budget, a leading academic has admitted.
Universities and successive governments have 'turned a blind eye' to the recruitment of these under-qualified students for years to drive up funding levels, Professor Susan Bassnett said.
Bassnett suggested that the abuse of the student visa system witnessed at London Metropolitan University was also common at other institutions across Britain.
In a startlingly frank admission, she claimed to have encountered cases of academics 'earning tidy little sums on the side by assisting students with inadequate command of English to produce essays'.
According to the Telegraph, Professor Bassnett, a former pro-vice chancellor of Warwick University, who has also acted as an external examiner at other institutions, said she had been asked to 'disregard linguistic competence and focus on content' by some of her peers.
She said that some students she crossed had such poor standards of English that they 'wouldn't scrape a GCSE'.
"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," writing in Times Higher Education magazine, she said.
"Nor are those colleagues stuck at the chalk face with students with poor language skills and irregular attendance likely to do any whistleblowing, since it is common knowledge that a lot of people's salaries are dependent on the cash cows being roped in," she added.
According to the report, figures published last year showed that income from foreign students has more than doubled over the last decade to 2 billion pounds, accounting for around 10 per cent of universities' total funding.
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