Immigration: politics matter more than statistics

by Andy Westwood July 3, 2012

The immigration debate is becoming increasingly technical, with universities arguing for different OECD measures and inevitably, the need for more and better data. But this isn’t a technical or even an economic debate. Like many other issues it is about politics and the concerns of voters – informed and uninformed. We find ourselves in a corner because the Conservatives (and not their coalition partners the Lib Dems) pledged to bring down immigration from the hundreds to the tens of thousands in their last election manifesto.

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Essential read: ‘Don’t Look to the Ivy League’

by Mark Leach May 23, 2011

At the heart of the Browne Report and the government’s higher education policy is a simple notion allegedly grounded in economics: that the introduction of market forces into the higher education sector will simultaneously drive up standards and drive down prices. The confidence displayed by ministers in predicting these effects would be more reassuring if it were not at odds with the evidence that precisely the opposite is happening. The list of universities committed to charging something near the £9000 upper limit of fees is steadily lengthening, contrary to what Vince Cable has repeatedly told them is in their rational economic interest. And with regard to standards, the American company that owns BPP University College – which David Willetts granted university status only last year – recently lost its appeal in the US Supreme Court after being found guilty of defrauding its shareholders and is under investigation by the US Higher Learning Commission for deceiving students about the career value of its degrees.

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Dr Jamil Salmi’s lecture to HEPI

by Mark Leach March 16, 2011

In case you missed the lecture Dr Jamil Salmi gave at the HEPI Annual Lecture on the 23rd February at the Royal Society, it’s well worth a read. Dr Salmi is the World Bank’s Director of Tertiary Education and has spent a fair amount of time in the UK. Packed with personal stories and anecdotes, he really brings it all to life.

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Sir Howard Davies has one influential supporter; the market

by Newell March 4, 2011

One of conservative libertarianism’s greatest minds, Milton Friedman, would be aghast that Davies has resigned because of what is essentially an issue of Corporate Social Responsibility. If you consider that the reduction in funding towards the sector means that further private channels of income will be required, one could argue that Friedman would believe LSE were correct in their decision to accept the Libya donation. He would argue that Sir Davies did what was necessary for the survival of the university in the market system and this should not be affected by public opinion. On those terms, LSE should be celebrated for accepting the donation as they are putting survival and profitable efficiency above public affairs; as any efficiently run company should.

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UKBA’s student immigration proposals have no intellectual coherence

by Debbie McVitty February 2, 2011

The immigration minister Damian Green gave a speech yesterday to the think tank Reform explaining the proposals set out by the UK Border Agency in its consultation on student visas.

The legal firm Pennington’s, who are experts in immigration law, suggested this week that the consultation itself could be illegal.

The Conservatives pledged to lower net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ in their General Election manifesto. Since taking office they have realized that through a quirk of data processing that counts student in net migration figures even though very few international students take up permanent residence in the UK, enacting this pledge would require drastic cuts to international student numbers.

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