Plan to cut entry mark scrapped

December 7, 2007

Swansea University has scrapped a plan to lower its English-language entry requirements for overseas students after staff protested that the move was too risky.

In an e-mail seen by The Times Higher , Donal O'Connor, the head of Swansea's international office, wrote to senior management confirming that places at the university would be offered to international students whose score in the International English Language Testing System is 0.5 mark short of the 6.5 points usually required.

His e-mail, dated September this year, states that the vice-chancellor, Richard Davies, agreed to the "extraordinary measures" after discussion of "student recruitment for this year, and in particular postgraduate recruitment".

Swansea's proposal came despite an earlier warning from one of its senior academics about poor language skills. In response to a 2005 consultation on language requirements, Eberhard Bischoff, a professor in the business school, wrote: "In a minority of cases, the language problems are sufficiently severe so that the students concerned do not have a realistic chance of succeeding on their chosen course of study ... We might be in danger of sacrificing our long-term competitive position in the market for the sake of some very short-term gains in numbers."

In a statement this week, the university said the proposal referred only to a "small cohort of borderline overseas students", who would have been required to take additional language training.

However, Swansea said, "most departments felt that the risk of admitting these students outweighed any advantages. Accordingly, it was decided not to proceed with the proposal".

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