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india Updated: Jan 26, 2005 22:51 IST

OXFORD UNIVERSITY has been condemned over plans to slash the number of UK student numbers it takes in favour of foreign students who will bring in more money.


The elite university charges overseas students nearly 10 times the tuition fees that British undergraduates pay.


Oxford aims to increase the percentage of overseas students it takes and introduce strategies to solve what it called "chronic underfunding".


But British MPs and students' leaders criticised the move and called on ministers to give universities more cash so they would not have to offer places to the highest bidders.


Kat Fletcher, president of the National Union of Students, said: "Universities should not see international students as simply pound signs that will solve the funding shortfall they find themselves facing. "Putting a market into higher education forces universities to perceive their students as customers

and therefore favour the highest paying ones during the admissions procedure."


A spokeswoman for Oxford said the move was not prompted by financial concerns alone. The university wanted to improve its international profile, she said.