Statement on university standards and overseas students
18 June 2008
Director General of the Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt, said:
“Our universities maintain a strict watch on standards with rigorous checks in place using expert external examiners; this is in line with the world-renowned quality assurance system operating in the UK. These standards apply equally to home students as well as overseas students, who must have demonstrated their academic excellence as well as a high level of English before being accepted on our courses.
“In 2006/07, overseas (EU and non-EU) students obtained a higher proportion of first class honours degrees than UK students at Russell Group universities – a clear indication of the high standard of overseas students that achieve a place at our universities and the commitment they have to their studies (1).
“Research has demonstrated a strong correlation between entry qualifications and degree results (3). The increase in the percentage of Russell Group students gaining firsts and 2:1s from 1994-2002 correlates with a rise in the entrants' qualifications and an increase in standards at the time the Russell Group was established. Recent research has also suggested that the concentration of highly qualified, highly motivated students in Russell Group universities, and the increasing competition for students due to the expansion of higher education, could contribute to rises in degree classification (4).”
1. In 2006/07, 15.7% non-EU students obtained first class honours at Russell Group universities. This figure was 20.1% for EU students and 15.2% for home students. www.hesa.ac.uk
2. Russell Group universities make great efforts to integrate international students into the academic and social communities. The i-graduate’s International Student Barometer (ISB) is the largest study of the international student experience and the latest results, based on feedback from nearly 25,000 international students at Russell Group universities, found that 87% noted their satisfaction with the ability to study with a range of multicultural peers. International students had a higher rate of overall satisfaction at Russell Group universities than by the average overall benchmark.
3. Previous research from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has established a strong correlation between entry qualifications and degree results. Also analysis of data in the annex of the Higher Education Policy Institute’s (HEPI) 2007 report, “the academic experience of students in English universities” shows that this correlation continues to exist.
4. Mantz Yorke, “Grading Student Achievement in Higher Education”, 2007.