It seems bizarre that a university that spends so much time, money and effort on ensuring that it admits only the best and brightest in all other areas should impose such restrictive criteria on international students wanting to study at Oxford.
International students are ineligible for most scholarships, bursaries and hardship funds, and have to pay huge fees that mean only the wealthiest of overseas students can study at Oxford.
This is not entirely the fault of the University, given that fee rates are often set at a national level, and visa and immigration issues are out of Oxford’s control. However, the university should pressure national bodies to ease these restrictions; it is, after all, in their interest.
The cultural aspect is another issue entirely. The tendency for international students to converge in international societies, often remaining isolated from the rest of the student community is an issue for anyone who thinks that a vibrant international student body is worth promoting.
The UK is a multi-cultural, ethnically diverse country in which minorities are more integrated than in most European countries, but arrivals are not always as well-received as one would hope. One need only look a few miles north of Oxford to find the Campsfield detention centre, where illegal immigrants are held in controversial conditions. Whilst the situation is clearly not so extreme with students, many internationals, often facing a language and cultural barrier, find themselves shunned from the UK social scene.
If Oxford wants to remain at the cutting edge of academic excellence, surely a wealth of international diversity is essential. Ensuring equality of access, rejecting stereotypes and welcoming our fellow foreign students is the best way to go about this.