As a former University lecturer I have known for some time this was happening. The huge scale of the problem was brought home to me 4 years ago when my daughter went up to Oxford and found undergraduate courses with a surprising number of Johnny Foreigners both EU and non-EU. The Universities prefer non-EU students as they can charge them £20k plus on my daughters course as compared with £3.3k for EU students. Worse, although no University will admit it, money talks and non-EU students are getting in with lower grade offers.
But the price rationing effect means that the EU students who pay the same fees and get the same loans as UK students are far bigger sector of the Johnny Foreigner market. The Sunday Telegraph reports today that more than 5000 undergraduate places at the 20 most sought after UK universities went to non-UK EU students. Last year there were 5004 of these students compared with 3799 in 2006. These numbers will be heavily skewed towards Oxbridge who are very coy about how many non UK students are on their undergraduate courses. The repayment rate for British taxpayer underwritten loans to these EU students is poor with 35% non-performing as the banks say or to put it crudely Johnny Foreigner does a runner after graduating.
EU students also count towards the admissions cap imposed by the government so they are clearly taking places from native British students. How crazy can we be. We are discriminating against our own children! The same thing is going on in medical recruitment where UK born excellent doctors cannot get training posts as they have largely been given to foreigners. That is why my eldest daughter, Edinburgh medical school, FRCS in one year, has been forced to go and work in Australia!
Public school headmasters from the South of England are currently whingeing on about Edinburgh University discriminating in favour of Sottish and North of England students. They would do better to complain about places given to EU students. The cap on student numbers will create some interesting allies.
Because of the appalling UK state education system there is no doubt that EU students are better academically than UK students. The EU maths students I taught even spoke and wrote better English than our kids! But these are our Universities largely paid for by UK tax payers, even Oxford and Cambridge and autonomous or not the government has to make it clear to these institutions they are there to serve the needs of UK children not foreigners children. Charity begins at home.