The University spent nearly £2 million on foreign recruitment agencies, and paid £1,000 in commission per overseas student recruited over the last two years. Last year 660 students were recruited through such agencies.
The University has spent £801,869.10 on student recruitment agents in 2011/12 and £981,906.70 in 2012/13.
Mike Anstey, YUSU International officer told Nouse, “Unfortunately, I still suspect that financial gain is still one of the ma in reasons why many institutions look to recruit from overseas – so it’s clear why you would question whether educational standards might be compromised – especially given the rigid funding for universities today etc. The cash cow mentality that institutions have is grossly unfair for international students.”
Although most universities use foreign recruitment agents there have been some concerns raised by their use in recent years.
Last year an investigation by The Daily Telegraph found some agents were boasting they could secure places for overseas students with far worse A-level results than those expected of British pupils.
A study earlier in the year by two companies – Uni-Pay, which collects and processes fee payments, and Centurus, an admissions firm – found that international students were an important source of income for universities.
However the study also claimed that the overseas recruitment system used was “inefficient” and wasteful. York pays a ten per cent commission to foreign recruitment agents, a similar figure to other institutions, according to the research.
In 2011/12, agents recruited 302,680 students from outside the EU, collectively paying £3.2 billion in fees. The average fee stood at £10,738.
Anstey added: “What many people seem to get wrong, is that not ALL international students have an unlimited bank flow, in many cases, everyone is in the same financial situation where loans need to be sought to get their education.
“The amount of cash spent on recruitment is vast, claims that all international students are prioritized purely for their money is a disgusting accusation which holds no truth to it.”
The University commented, “About 23% of our total student population is from overseas. We monitor the performance of our agents carefully and require all of them to abide by our code of conduct. Researchers estimated that 38 per cent of these students were recruited through agents, suggesting that total commission may be equal to £120m.”
Foreign students represent a large source of income for British universities, with many undergraduates and postgraduates from outside the EU paying twice as much for courses as home students.
Income from students from outside Europe has more than doubled in the last decade and now accounts for almost 10 per cent of universities’ total funding.