We know that the Cabinet and top tiers of our Civil Service reflect a background of great privilege compared to the majority of the population. Even before the previous Government’s relative success at widening access to our Universities, the higher educational experience of the current Cabinet and Civil Service would to reflect a disproportionally small group of institutions who can easily fill their lecture theatres many times over even in the deepest of depressions.
All other Universities in the UK have a business model that depends on attracting a proportion of students from outside of the EU to help keep many of their courses open and profitable. This cohort pay a higher level of fees compared to their EU classmates and the courses they sustain produce British graduates that enable the UK to retain its economic strength. The number of these Universities and their geographic spread helps to improve UK access to education and creates local economic opportunities for small businesses that provide services to undergraduates. The ‘cost’ for this model to work is that some of the overseas students remain in the UK after their degrees are awarded and continue to work or study in subsequent years. That they continue to enrich our society and strengthen our own workforce is a bonus.
In their desire to close the UK to immigration (to all but the wealthiest business owner) the Government seems to have overlooked the impact on our higher education system. They were warned by many people but being well educated and perhaps because they lack experience of the system they were destroying, they felt they knew better. However in order to try to correct the market failure created by his own policies, Dave and his team along with a bunch of University Chancellors and Vice Chancellors is about to fly to India at our expense. Dave will explain to potential students that when he said they were not welcome, that he actually meant someone else who looked just like them and could they please change their plans and come to one of our Universities instead of one in Canada, America or Australia.
It is staggering that our PM who presumably does have other work priorities is prepared to break off from campaigning in Eastleigh or from his half term holiday with Samantha and the family to fly to India without at least stopping to think about his own failure in this situation. It is wonderful that he has a generous employer who is prepared to release him from his desk and pay for an all expenses trip India so he can personally stick a plaster on the gaping wound he has created, but he needs to understand that his presence in one key Nation for a few hours will not correct a failed policy. He needs to come clean, admit that he made a mistake (despite the many warnings) and explain carefully to his cabinet and Sir Andrew Green that immigration plays a vital role in our economy!