V-cs look at 'honest deal' code

June 9, 1995

Vice chancellors are debating a code of conduct for the treatment of overseas students which urges British institutions not to seek recruits by criticising each other.

The theme of "honest dealing" runs through the proposed code, from giving overseas students a full picture of United Kingdom academic and cultural life to providing ongoing study support.

For foreign students with a grievance, the code will also create a level of appeal beyond their host institution.

"A new code was seen as an important signal of the determination of the higher education system to sustain and enhance a high quality experience for international students," said the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, which debates the code at its council meeting today.

Advice on recruitment includes the following: "Institutions are strongly advised to follow the basic principles of honest dealing and avoid resorting to unfavourable comparisons with other institutions."

And the admissions advice adds: "Institutions should ensure that applicants are aware of the full cost of study from the outset."

Students' queries, appeals and complaints could be taken to the CVCP, or COSHEP or SCOP, the bodies for Scottish higher education and higher education colleges, if institutional procedures have been exhausted.

And the Higher Education Quality Council is to be charged with looking at the operation of the code as part of its audit process.

The code was welcomed by David Elliott, head of education promotion at the British Council.

"Whenever we test the market through surveys, the one thing Britain scores highly on is its quality and reputation for providing a safe but demanding environment to pursue an internationally recognised qualification," said Mr Elliott. "The code is not saying we have got a crisis, it is saying 'let's protect the position we have got'."

Mr Elliott said the Council was still concerned about "institution-bashing" by a small number of recruiters in the Pacific Rim market.

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