Almost a thousand courses at top universities within the Clearing process are reserved for international students, according to The Times.
An investigation by the newspaper showed that the UCAS Clearing page on Friday 9 August displayed 4,611 courses available for students in the UK and wider EU wishing to apply for courses at Russell Group universities, while international students have 5,505 courses available to them.
However, the difference in course availability figures may alter before results day on Thursday 15 August.
Bristol University had 241 courses available for overseas students on 9 August and 134 for those in the UK.
The biochemistry undergraduate course at Bristol University is currently solely open to international students. The price of the course currently stands at £22,300 per year of study.
Manchester University has also been identified to offer different course availabilities between overseas and domestic students. The institution offered over 100 more courses to potential international students than British students in the Clearing process, such as a BA in economics and politics.
This trend is replicated at the University of Birmingham, Edinburgh, York and Leeds.
It would be a commercially sensible decision to keep some places available for international students
– Alan Smithers
Edinburgh University offered three courses for domestic students and 278 for those living outside the EU.
A spokesman for Edinburgh said: “The university is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive academic community. We seek to balance our intake of students from Scotland, the rest of the UK, the EU and beyond.”
While fees for domestic students are fixed at £9,250 per year, fees for students outside the EU can be much higher.
British universities can charge fees of up to twice to three times more than students in the UK are permitted to pay.
Alan Smithers, director of the centre for education and employment research at the University of Buckingham said some courses may have been tailored towards students from overseas or professional bodies within specific countries.
Mr Smithers continued that financial motives could explain why universities would be taking only international students for some courses.
“Foreign students are less likely to come to a country for courses specially for them — they want to mix with other students,” he said. “It would be a commercially sensible decision to keep some places available for international students.”
He added: “Universities are supposed to develop and foster talent that can compete around the world. That would require [more] government funding and for universities to be chasing the best talent rather than the fees different students bring with them.”