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Update following media coverage & speculation re international admissions

01 Feb 2024

We are aware that there has understandably been some concern and ongoing speculation around the recent Sunday Times article and follow up coverage which most notably confused entry grades for international students’ Foundation year with entry grades for degree programmes.

To assist in answering any questions that may be raised with you, we thought it helpful to publish for you, the responses we gave and the broader sector responses.

To be absolutely clear on this point, international students who want to study at our University have to achieve the same rigorous entry criteria as UK students to enter our degree programmes. Applications from both International and UK/Home applicants are treated on an equal basis at each stage of the application process. Entry into our International Foundation Year courses are an important bridge for students coming from countries where secondary schooling ends a year earlier than in the UK. We also provide foundation options for UK students from backgrounds of educational disadvantage. Entry requirements for these programmes are at a lower level than UG year 1 for both UK and international students.  Following those Foundation Year courses, students whether UK or International, must achieve the required entry level to go on to our degree programmes.

The accusation that International students take the places of UK students is simply untrue, as there are separate targets for both groups and applications for both groups are given equal consideration.

All students who study with us are greatly valued and vitally important to us.

We had responded extensively, alongside the Russell Group and other universities, to the article prior to the publication of it in the Sunday Times. Our responses and those of the wider sector are detailed in full below.

We believe the piece is misleading as it conflates a number of different programme options.  It also fails to include the detailed corrections that we made to the assertions underlying the piece.

University of Manchester response provided to the Sunday Times

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “The University of Manchester is strongly committed to fair admissions. We apply the same academic entry requirements to both domestic and international applicants. The international foundation year provides a route to a degree primarily for students who have received only 11 or 12 years of formal education in their home country, rather than the 13 years of a UK student. 

“Application numbers for Manchester are always above sector norms as we receive among the highest volumes of applications through UCAS of any UK university. The level of demand for some of our programmes means that there are good home and international candidates who unfortunately may not succeed in gaining admission. Our admissions criteria are reviewed regularly in the context of seeking the best qualified students for our University.”

Corrections and clarifications to questions asked on 23 January

Q - Overseas students wishing to enter the Foundation for Manchester’s business school need a minimum of three Bs at A-level, whereas home students are required to achieve three As.  

A - This statement is misleading, because it confuses entry requirements for  the foundation pathway  with entry requirements required  for  successful  progression and  admission to  the UoM degree. The letter grades required for UoM admission are listed, by programme of study, within our A-Z search, and on the basis of the relevant qualification taken. Alliance Manchester Business School does not offer a foundation but does accept a number of external ones. These are vetted and a requirement is generated from the foundation course structure and content. The requirement for successfully commencing the degree programme is usually equivalent to 3 As. We would not accept three Bs as it is 3 grades below our standard requirement. 

See, for example the foundation requirements for BSc Management from the INTO foundation pathway at: 

Q - Do you also accept 16 or 17-year-old students onto the International Foundation course with GCSE or AS grades? If so, what are the grade requirements?  

A - Students are not accepted onto the foundation straight after GCSE or iGCSE or AS. UoM entry requirements for the INTO programme are shown under ‘foundation requirements and the entry requirements for UoM UCAS integrated foundation programmes are also listed within our A-Z links:  eg for BEng Mechanical Engineering 

Q - The Foundation course automatically comes with a “guaranteed conditional offer” reserving a place at the business school as long as the student passes their end of year pathway exams.   

A - The conditional offer for INTO pathway students is subject not just to passing the pathway exams, but subject to candidates meeting the specific UG entry requirements (by grade and/or specified subjects) as published on our programme-by-programme ‘entry requirements’ information for foundation programmes.    

Q - The progression rate for the Manchester INTO Foundation is very high and the course is said to be much easier than studying A-levels for students with good English and the knowledge learnt on the course is basic.  

A - This statement is misleading. The programme is intended for students requiring a bridging of their international high school qualifications and includes additional English and study skills elements intended to support an international candidate’s successful transition to HE in the UK.  

Q - In general, these pathways allow students to enter universities with much lower qualifications than those required from UK students who apply through the UCAS system and have no access to these alternative routes.  

A – As said in our statement, we apply the same academic entry requirements to both domestic and international applicants. For the INTO pathway, progression is not automatic and candidates have to meet our precise requirements to successfully progress onto the UoM degree programmes.

Q - Does the university accept overseas students from International Year One courses run by pathway providers onto its undergraduate courses?  

A - No. 

Links to wider sector responses