The Daily Telegraph reports that an agent at Beijing-based Golden Arrow Consulting told undercover reporters posing as representatives of the student that it would be possible to study accounting or economics at Cardiff Business School with three Cs at A level.
The normal entry requirement is AAB, the newspaper said.
The same adviser also told the undercover reporters that the student would be able to study business at the University of Sussex.
A spokeswoman for Cardiff said: “The alleged practices by the agency Golden Arrow misrepresent the university’s robust admission procedures.
“Agents do not make admissions decisions. All decisions on eligibility for courses at Cardiff are taken by the university itself.”
Sussex told the Telegraph that it made “no C, C, C offers whatsoever”.
In a separate statement the university refuted any suggestion that a foreign student was offered place at the institution with A-level grades of CCC, and added that its admissions process for overseas applicants was “rigorous and professional”.
Universities UK has also issued its own response to the story.
Nicola Dandridge, UUK’s chief executive, said: “Universities set entry requirements to courses but may deviate from these in certain circumstances. This would apply to UK, [European Union] and non-EU students.
“Universities will only recruit international students [who] they believe are genuine and are capable of completing the course.”
The Telegraph quoted Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College, as claiming that it is harder for UK students to get into British universities than international students, and that the UK sector is “increasingly searching for, and needing, overseas fees”.
Ms Dandridge added: “International students do not, and cannot, displace home student places. UK student places are capped by government.
“Universities recruit UK students up to those caps. If they exceed their allocation of home students they are fined. Recruitment of international students operates entirely outside these domestic limits.”
Golden Arrow told the Telegraph that it had “never” sent a student to Cardiff with three Cs at A level, but added that lower grades could be accepted through clearing at a number of high-ranking universities.