Are universities around the world selling themselves short in order to gain overseas students?

I’ve worked now in Saudi Arabia for a few years (10 at the time of writing) and work within a university context.

Over the years, I’ve met a lot of students coming back from overseas, with either a Masters qualification, or even a PhD. When in discussion with some, I’ve been taken aback by the level of their English (you assume they’ve written their assignments in English) and some (meaning many) at PhD level seem unable to converse fluently about their particular area of research.

There are even rumours of individuals who are ready to ‘help’ overseas students with their writing. There is a lot of money being exchanged to ‘edit, rewrite and prepare students for their viva.

The fact of the matter is, is that you are left wondering what’s going on. Are there two sets of assessment criteria? One for locals and another for the more lucrative overseas students?

The reality is this, that the reputations some countries have built over the generations, are at risk for the sake of a few dollars/pounds. If things don’t change soon, we are going to have a large number of ‘graduates’  with advanced qualifications which are not worth the paper they’re written on – in fact there are too many of them already.

Is anyone listening?