Over the years as an international educator I have observed a lot of what I believe is hanky panky when it comes to the admission of students in institutions of higher learning. In the United States I saw students who jumped from one institution to another, using their student visas as tickets for tourism instead of serious academic pursuit. Loopholes in the system allowed this kind of thing. In the Middle East I chaired a committee at my school which determined that what was wrong with our department was not the quality of the teaching, but the admission to our classes of students not ready for the curriculum. I could go on. But, my anecdotal experience makes me think that schools are under so much pressure to survive financially that they bend their admission standards for the sake of cash flow.
The presence of students who can’t handle the curriculum makes it very difficult for teachers in the classroom. If there is a class with a large number of such students, teachers may be tempted to bring down the level of their content in order to avoid having to fail them. The environment in that kind of situation is terrible.
In addition, the inclusion of students not capable of meeting academic standards in a class creates problems for students who can. The better students get upset because they want to move on, but they have to wait for the poorer students to try and catch up. They become angry with their fellow students, and with the teacher who is running the whole show.
So it was welcome news for me today when I read in the Heslingin Sanomat about the tightening of admission standards for foreign students wanting to study at polytechnics here in Finland. I was also glad to read that an attempt is being made to weed out the corruption in the process.