Thursday 6 September 2012

You couldn't make it up.

Politicians, particularly from the right, are fond of claiming that this, that or the other aspect of British society is "The best in the world and the envy of the world" when it patently isn't, as our justice system or parliamentary system, to give but two examples, amply demonstrate. 

The one thing that clearly is the best in the world and the envy of the world is the BBC, so what do they do?  Weaken the main organisation to favour a predatory Murdoch, and emasculate the World Service with its world-wide reputation for integrity for which most other international broadcasters, and particularly the Voice of America, would give their right arms.

It would be going too far to claim that our higher education system is the best in the world and the envy of the world, but it is internationally respected, and is one of the few remaining areas in which the UK has what economists call a "comparative advantage" in international trade terms. The fees students pay, and the money they spend while they are here are equivalent in terms of international trade to the foreign currency earning of exports of pharmaceuticals or, alas armaments.  Then, of course, there is the "knock on" effect of the respect and sometimes even affection for the UK felt by former students who often become influential citizens in their own countries - providing , of course, that they have received a stimulating educational experience and been fairly treated while they are here

So what do we do?  Restrict the number of foreign students universities can take, and besmirch our administrative reputation by revoking at the last minute the licence of London Metropolitan University to admit any at all..

Clearly London  Met's procedures need to be sorted out, but surely the process with respect to new students could have been started earlier in the year, rather than a few days before the beginning of term, and the cases of existing students  well into their courses investigated on a case by case basis and only the sham ones sent away.

This ridiculous macho action by he authorities is hugely unfair on hundreds of individuals and damages Britain's reputation  in one of the few remaining areas where we remain internationally competitive.

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