09/24/2012 11:47 am ET

Foreign Students Used To Fill Budget Gaps In United Kingdom, Susan Bassnett Claims

Universities across the pond are using foreign students as "cash cows" to plug budget gaps, claims Susan Bassnett, a former pro-vice chancellor of Warwick University. Some of the students being brought recruited to United Kingdom universities are barely proficient in English, but Bassnett claims the schools are willing to turn a blind eye.

"We have all seen the way in which international students with poor qualifications have been recruited as cash cows for years now," Bassnett wrote in a Times Higher Education magazine column.

British students pay up to £9,000 a year for tuition and fees, while foreign students pay closer to £20,000, according to The Daily Mail.

Bassnett, who is currently a professor of comparative literature at the University of Warwick, isn't the only one to make this claim.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch, recently said "Non-EU students are being recruited to prop up the finances of less well known universities," in a recent report on the issue.

London Metropolitan University was recently at the center of an immigration crack-down by the government which could lead to a deportation of thousands of non-European Union students studying there. The U.K. Border Agency said many foreign students did not have proper visas to be studying in the country. LMU's vice chancellor Malcolm Gillies said without those students, their school is left with a hole of £30 million, or $38 million, in the institution’s budget, the New York Times reports.

"Over the years, I have encountered cases of academics earning tidy little sums on the side by assisting students with inadequate command of English to produce essays, and I have been asked to 'disregard linguistic competence and focus on content' in some places," Bassnett said. "On one occasion, I was present at a meeting where someone (mercifully not an academic) pointed out that it had started to become uneconomic to take home students, so why not simply recruit the high-fee-paying foreign ones?"

British universities have seen funding cuts as high as 40 percent in recent years, during an era of austerity. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in 2010 that Britain's predominantly public higher-education system "is heavily dependent on government support." For most institutions, government money is the largest portion of their revenue.

It used to be that way in the U.S. as well, but there has been a steady and significant toward public universities relying on tuition more than any government appropriations.

The practice of using international and out-of-state students for budgetary reasons is happening domestically as a result of states scaling back funding to state universities.

Foreign students are especially being recruited for graduate programs in the U.S. These students mainly hail from China or the Middle East. The Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs estimates there are currently 32 percent more foreign students studying in the U.S. than there was a decade ago.



Out-Of-State Enrollment Numbers At Public Colleges (Numbers From The College Board Unless Otherwise Noted)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Information in the slideshow on percentage of out-of-state students enrolled comes via The College Board, and are based on the school system's flagship campus as of 2011-12, unless otherwise noted.