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Cash for class

Sir, — The article "Cash for class at Oxbridge" (Feb. 9) did a grave disservice to the intellectual abilities of our international students, as well as making a number of incorrect assertions about the University's plans. Admission to Cambridge is, and always will be, based solely on academic ability. International students are not selected based on their ability to pay; in fact, in 2003-04 around half of the international students at Cambridge received financial support from the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust, the Cambridge Overseas Trust or the Cambridge European Trust.

Far from abandoning our "arcane admission procedures and old-fashioned insistence on magic grades" in favour of "hard cash," as your report suggested, we operate the same rigorous selection criteria for overseas applicants as for U.K. applicants. The international students we admit — including many from India — are among the brightest in the world and we are right to be proud that they are members of the University of Cambridge.

Dr. Geoff Parks,
Director, Admissions for the Cambridge Colleges,
Cambridge, U.K.

* * *

Sir, — With the British Government unwilling to fund Oxford and Cambridge, and the universities finding their own sources of income, education and students of state run schools will suffer. In India too, seasonal increase in fee structure, especially with respect to higher education, restricts access.

Ruby Charak,
Panchkula, Haryana

* * *

Sir, — British universities, under immense financial pressure, have opened up a wide range of attractively named courses that are just money-spinners. Students from India and China enrol in these to get a branded degree and are fleeced in the bargain.

Thanks to the inordinately high fees, several middle-class students cannot even think of joining university. Are premier institutions in India too going the same way?

Anil Suri,
Durham, U.K.

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