Chinese parents are reportedly paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to education consultants in attempts to win their children places at top UK schools and universities.

The companies offer academic tuition and a “tailor-made service” designed to up the applicants’ chances.This also includes lessons in “Britishness”. Prospective students are taught about British culture, including rugby, how to talk about the weather and even how to understand a British sense of humour. There are reports that the students get taken to British-style pubs in China to watch rugby fixtures. Classes designed to boost pupils’ confidence for university interviews, such as drama classes, are also held.

A spokesperson from Oxford University stated, “Recruitment and selection of students (at both undergraduate and postgraduate level) is based purely on merit. Academic aptitude, not ‘Britishness,’ is the most important quality admissions tutors look for in any applicant”.