The problem of poor PhD completion rates may not be language proficiency alone. Undergraduate degrees in many Asian and Middle Eastern countries do not adequately prepare students to think critically or to articulate ideas. I went to one such university; upon entering graduate school in the US, I had to unlearn many bad habits.
Another reason could be the lack of rigorous coursework in British doctoral programmes. Institutions probably assume that because their own undergraduate degree programmes are well structured and provide a broad, general education, with emphasis on reading and writing, overseas students will have had similar exposure. Unfortunately, this may not be the case.
If British PhD programmes from second-tier universities, particularly those that upgraded from polytechnic status, want to be taken seriously, they need to address these issues.
Mohammed Khan, doctoral candidate, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto