CHANGES to the way foreign students apply to British universities are being drawn up to make the system more flexible.
Pressure from admissions officers, who feared Britain could lose potential recruits to less bureaucratic systems in the United States and other countries, has led to the move.
Any improvement in recruitment processes will be welcome for institutions, which have seen a substantial drop this year in applications from some overseas students, following economic crises in the Far East.
The changes, which follow a review by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service last year, include removing, or partly removing, the December 15 deadline for applications and making it easier for students from partner institutions abroad to apply directly to their linked institution.
Anthie Panayidou, education counsellor at the British Council in Cyprus, said: "The main problem here is the December 15 deadline. It is too early for Cypriot students. We only have one university in Cyprus and places are limited so a lot of students may pass the exams but don't secure a place. They then look for places in Britain and the US."
A UCAS spokesman said admissions service advice leaflets would now stress that the deadline was only important for particularly popular subjects, such as medicine, and that for others it was possible to apply throughout the year.
UCAS is also trying to find ways of allowing applicants from colleges linked with particular institutions in Britain to apply directly to them, rather than go through UCAS.
ACU conference, page 8. Admissions, page 3