A Universities UK spokesperson said: "International students are not given university places that would have otherwise have gone to home students. There is rightly no cap on the number of qualified students a university can recruit.
"Universities recruit home and international students on merit. Universities will only recruit international students they believe are genuine, would benefit from a university education and are capable of completing the course. Recruiting international students without the academic ability to complete the course is not in universities' interests as it could put at risk their (Tier 4) licence to recruit international students.
"Talented international students also add enormously to the experience of home students, enriching our campuses both academically and culturally.
"While pathway programme providers aim to prepare international students for courses, they are only able to signpost applicants to universities. Ultimate decisions on admissions lie solely with the university. Not all pathway students progress to full degree courses."