Tuesday, 16 January 2018

international student course satisfaction

International students take economics courses with the

  • worst student feedback in the UK and in the
  • most expensive parts, so these
  • courses make most money because non-EU students pay double fees.

I wrote a long set of notes for a government consultation  overlapping with this page, but this one starts with a table of evidence. Click on the number under "degree" for each college to see student satisfaction on Unistats about each course.

Statements like "International Students contribute £X &Y jobs to the UK economy" are based on work by Oxford Economics or London Economics who work for corporate clients like Universities UK; they are not paid to be impartial.  
Bit.ly/reportmethods is a link to Oxford Economics' methods.  They do not count the costs of a more over-crowded city, nor of colleges like London College of Fashion which actively hinder the UK manufacturing economy while claiming taxpayer grants for the work. This page doesn't mention the Oxford Economics report, but does give examples about the London College of Fashion. Another post suggests they shouldn't help with the Cultural & Education District at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Sources
see "footnote on sources" below. The number of international students in the first column links to the unistats page for that college's degree course, with student satisfaction reports for things like "course is intellectually stimulating" that add-up to student satisfaction scores.
"Satisfied"
The final column is a Complete University Guide rank, by student feedback score, of each institution out of 83 recent providers of economics degree courses. It exaggerates differences between courses with similar feedback, but clarifies the point that most of these are the worst courses. The Guardian University Guide gives about the same result.
The other columns are examples of detail.

About half the students who fill-in a national student survey are simply trying to be loyal and polite, so scores below 50% are rare. Students tick boxes on an "agree ... disagree" scale to survey questions.
 "Stimulated"
"The course is intellectually stimulating", or worth study at all.
"Interested"
"Staff made the subject interesting", or made the best of it. Central London courses are probably taught by staff who have done long commutes to get to work.
"Applied"
"Opportunity to apply what I had learned". A course in economics without application is clearly pointless. Apart from anything else, you can't tell which theories are worth study until you need to apply them. And I mention a shoe-making course in which 29% of students thought they'd get to apply the skill more than they did.
 "?Gap"
Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, and LSE were reported in news articles above with a £9,000 lobotomy theme, but I see no degree for Glasgow or Edinburgh, so there is a gap. I have put data from a financial statistics course in the list for Imperial.

A gap could mean that a college closed its course. Smaller and regional colleges, with fewer international students, sometimes re-define and re-title their courses to avoid the bad feedback that a previous version of the course had, I guessed when writing a star courses post about the worst-reviewed courses a few years ago.

Top 20 largest recruiters of international students 2015-16

most mainstream economics degree - click the number under "degree" to see student feedback stats
                    overseas students      national student survey of all students
                    degree   grad.  total  stimulated interested applied satisfied (1-83)   
UCL                 7,860    7,115  14,975 72%        92%        65%      79 / 83

Uni of Manchester   5,950    6,970  12,920 74%        76%        59%      78 / 83 protests
Uni of Edinburgh    5,085    5,695  10,780                                81 / 83 no degree
Kings College       4,115    4,785   8,900   ?          ?          ?      70 / 83 new course

Uni of Sheffield    4,595    3,930   8,525 64%        81%        74%      40 / 83       
Uni of Warwick      4,520    3,920   8,440 80%        89%        77%      64 / 83  
Imperial College    4,550    3,970   8,520 45%        62%             
            see notes
Uni of Oxford       5,760    2,300   8,060   ?          ?          ?              PPE Ec/Hist
LSE                 4,635    2,280   6,915 60%        74%        52%      83 / 83
Uni of Birmingham   4,670    2,945   7,615 66%        81%        58%      45 / 83
City, Uni of L      4,320    3,180   7,500 57%        82%        52%      60 / 83

Uni of Southampton  4,050    3,175   7,225 66%        83%        52%      72 / 83
Uni of Glasgow      3,845    3,790   7,635                                        no degree
Coventry Uni        3,540    6,175   9,715 93%        100        98%       5 / 83
Uni of Nottingham   3,170    4,070   7,240 79%        81%        75%       6 / 83
Cardiff Uni         3,285    3,825   7,110 46%        69%        52%      73 / 83

Uni of Leeds        3,825    2,760   6,585 89%        92%        77%      38 / 83
Uni of Liverpool    2,075    5,235   7,310 71%        78%        62%      56 / 83
Uni of the Arts,    2,035    6,425   8,460 50%        62%        71%       3 /  3 Footwear

Non London
London                              55,270


Complete University Guide combines all measures of student satisfaction, including non-academic, to rank 83 universities teaching economics degrees

theguardian.com/education/universityguide  lists Univerity of the Arts as having the worst student feedback of any university across all courses. knocking London School of Economics off bottom place.


University of the arts is 73rd  out of 81 for satisfaction in "art and design" and 3rd out of three for "footwear"

The second column links to a unistats page for each institution from which satisfaction levels for stimulated / interested / applied are drawn.

Cardiff' Economics Professor Patrick Minford wrote that "we would mostly eliminate manufacturing.... But this shouldn’t scare us". His students would rather eliminate his course. which has a 46% stimulating syllabus - the lowest. Imperial's Financial Statistics score one point worse, as financial stats courses tend to do.
University of Liverpool also teaches a Business Economics degree which scores in the mid 50s for student feedback.

International students per institution are quoted from the Complete University Guide.  A footnote links to any free available data about the proportion of international students at each college from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Breakdown by course is not offered.



Reasons for picking economics and fashion / footwear courses.:

I comment on University of the Arts Fashion courses and the footwear example because they are close to something I know about.
I comment on Economics degrees next because I did an economics degree.
I haven't worked out a broader picture of subjects I know nothing about.
I haven't worked-out how to link student satisfaction with the proportion of international students on every UK university course, and these two linked to rent levels
There's a footnote about what data is available for free: you could probably do a lot better than me if you are deft with spreadsheets, but the information by course and international student proportion is not available for free. You could try asking on Whatdotheyknow.com as a freedom of information request maybe.

This Guardian article shows me how little I know about the subject, except my own particular background which would take too long to explain.

.

London College of Fashion, University of the Arts
- scores 73 / 81 for art & design subjects, 3 / 3 for footwear, 
- diverted Higher Education Funding council money from knowledge transfer partnerships in the UK to factories in China.
- acts as "secretariat" to a group in the House of Lords
- gets funding from Nike
- gets funding from each London Mayor to show Chinese-made fashion, reducing airtime and column-inches for UK-made products (as part of the preparation for London Fashion Week, shared with other fashion colleges).
- attracts unhappy students to the most crowded expensive part of London
- charges £17,500 a year tuition fee to overseas students

A separate problem is University of the Arts, London College of Fashion, which is in the wrong place - central London. Clothing and footwear manufacturers are often in small towns - typically in the midlands - or sometimes North and East London. There are inner-city ones in Manchester Leicester and Northamptonshire.

I would like a London fashion college to do a few things which it does not do.
  • quantitative data about clothing and footwear manufacturing
    I would like to compile a complete list of clothing and footwear manufacturers, based on income tax and VAT data, maybe with help from government because tax data is exempt from freedom of information requests under the revenue and customs act. London's British Fashion Council, like London College of Fashion, publish no such list. If asked at a public event, their staff will say something like "personal recommendation is the best way to find a factory", and talk about "sampling", which is the same as manufacturing but more expensive. Lists like "Lets Make it Here", sponsored by the Department for Business, are opt-in lists which manufacturers are expected to discover and sign-up for.

    This is relevant to migration. I imagine that migrants with English as a second language and craft skills want to be part of manufacturing industry, rather than doing customer service jobs. There was some evidence that I don't have to hand about the huge number of people in Tower Hamlets who wrote manufacturing trades like sewing machinist on visits to the jobcentre or when claiming benefits.  

    This is relevant to economic estimates of how money trickles-through the UK economy and whether it turns into good jobs or tax revenue. Oxford Economics' "Value of Fashion" report finds no recent input-output data to estimate how the money trickles-round the UK economy, and uses 1998 data about footwear factories to try to estimate how things like the wages of British Home Store staff might be spent on UK footwear. I happen to have a list of UK footwear manufacturers from 1998 and more than half of them are crossed-out with a closing date, after the exchange-rate regime made life impossible for them in the 1980s and 1990s. So the data that leads to statements like "Fashion contributes X billion to the UK economy", is flawed data. The report is also written very much to please the client, I think. Not the taxpayer who pays British Fashion Council, but the clique of politicians and appointed staff who organise British Fashion Council. So rather some other assumptions are made. "Fashion" is a slippery word. It can mean fashioning or choosing a fashion. Oxford economics chooses clothing and footwear retail of far-eastern products through chain-stores like British Home Store or Primark as the biggest part of their word "fashion", and estimate huge benefits about, say British Home Stores tax contribution, which we now know to be untrue because the taxpayer had to bail-out the staff pension.
  • I would like the college, or someone, to encourage shared work spaces available by the hour for lasting of footwear or cutting of uppers, so that Londoners could try making shoes, but the college has not done that in an affordable way. There are some odd things that other people have done, but nothing from London College of Fashion itself. However there is money from private sponsors and central governments Higher Education Funding Council that might be spent on this. It is diverted 
  • Run courses for Londoners who want to fashion things, as the name of their college suggests. That would include cheap short courses in how to sew or do accounts without an accountant, working-up to career courses in pattern cutting, machine maintenance and improvisation, and manufacturing. You would expect them to use government money for knowledge transfer partnerships as the name suggests, but the person they employ for that has no fashion experience outside the college and uses the scheme to promote a course.

London College of Fashion have a history of closing technical courses, I have noticed over the years as I glance at the footwear courses they inherited from Cordwainers College. I went on a short evening class and found it over-priced and un-supported by anything like a maker-lab for London business or a Knowledge Transfer Partnership or even access to the library for ex-students or for people in the industry. The administration appeared to be deliberately bad at describing it to students in an attempt to run it down, and they succeeded; the second part of the course usually didn't run, I was told, for lack of applicants. A remaining footwear course - the first on their list is a full time degree - is ranked third out of three in the UK for student satisfaction and all London College of Fashion courses are ranked 73 / 81 for art and design, sharing the bottom of the league table with some other recruiters of overseas students, Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities.

I think that a survey of students and graduates from London college of Fashion would show that they can study dress design without being well qualified in pattern cutting, or dress manufacturing, or web design and sales. Even if they are good at finding manufactures to work with, they still have to find a way to sell clothes.

If University of the Arts' London College of Fashion was interested in helping UK-based students begin manufacturing, it would host maker-spaces for people to start manufacturing, and short courses for people in the industry already. I see no sign of that. It does not even allow local manufacturers to use the library, unless they ask for an invite with a maximum of one invitation per day. There is someone there for knowledge Transfer Partnerships, but he has a background in film and says "we don't do bespoke"; he seems to use the system to promote a course rather than help businesses.
University of the Arts is also a lobby group, a major receiver of government grants, and a rather covert political organisation. It has several spin-off organisations, so outsiders find it hard to know where the boundaries of the organisation are and how much it overlaps, for example, with British Fashion Council or, in the past, with the London Development Agency or the All Party Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion. Sometimes the boundaries are confusing to people who work there. A PR agent for London College of Fashion was at a Department for Business consultation about export promotion. She said it would be great to have the kind of money given for the Asiana Design For Life project in Kenya - there was a lot of of government money for that - but she didn't know which part of government it came from. I guess it was the Department for International Development. Another project was a series of seminars called "Making it Ethically in China", advertised on the college website with badges from "Own-it", "UAL Ventures", "Creative Connexions" and "London Development Agency". I did a freedom of information request to London Development Agency to ask why their badge was on it and the reply was that they didn't really know; maybe it was a mistake.

The Centre for Sustainable Fashion, a college department which acts as "secretariat" to the all party group, lists a rather frightening list of sponsors and successes in obtaining grants from taxpayers
http://sustainable-fashion.com/about/funding-and-partners/ If these have a pure motive for paying professors, then it is a pity that London-based manufacturers and sewers and sellers cannot have the benefit; the project is a cuckoo for funding. If these funders have a mixed motive for paying professors, I guess it is to remove the interests of UK manufactuers from the discussion and to insert other discussion points like whether a piece of clothing can go in the compost bin, or whether the long supply chain can be audited, or whether the audited factory might be just slightly better than an un-audited factory next door in Bangladesh or one that fails the audit.

The party line (I argue on other web sites) is pro-globalisation, anti-welfare state, and anti UK manufacturing. It was founded by someone recommended for the House of Lords by a former Mayor of London.

There is also a party rhetoric - a series of presentational tricks - originally worked-out by Futerra Communications and pushed via an organisation called Ethical Fashion Forum.
http://veganline.com/fair-fashion.htm#ethical-fashion explains in detail how the presentational tricks work.

London College of Fashion is also good at getting endorsements from London mayors, who authorise spending on London Fashion Week. This is the latest one in an interview with Vogue, doubtless placed by a PR and lobby group. The odd thing is that Khan does not seem to have read unistats reports about London College of Fashion, even though I sent them to him. He also thinks that people coming to London, reducing space for other things, is good, which is not what property prices, homelessness, and transport over-crowding suggest. He also uses a cliche - state of the art - suggesting that he has been primed to give a certain answer.

VOGUE. London is home to some of the best fashion schools in the world, many of which are oversubscribed - what will you do to address this?
SK: It's great that so many people want to come to London to study fashion. We are blessed with some of the world's most famous institutions like the London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins. I always love visiting the University of the Arts. But being popular brings with it its own challenges - and to cope with that, we need to support our fashion schools to expand. The mayor can help with this - from sourcing land, to supporting them through the planning process and making sure that in large developments we find space for new state-of-the-art premises. The fashion industry will have a friend and ally in me at City Hall.

Khan declares no corporate sponsorship, so I imagine he hopes for public benefit and perhaps a bit of publicity rather than money by being a "friend and ally" of Chinese fashion manufacturing promoted at London Fashion Week and bad courses in overcrowded places. He doesn't mention the people who would have got press coverage for making products in the UK if London Fsahion Week was not subsidised to promote products made in the far east and China.

It seems odd that an institution called "University of the Arts" incorporating London College of Printing Communication, St Martens College of Art, London College of Fashion, and footwear courses taken-over from Cordwainers College, should be on the same list as red brick universities teaching economics. But they say they share a "big picture", and I guess this is a picture of markets in very efficient equilibrium, un-troubled by issues of like whether a country has an NHS or girls secondary schools or unemployment pay, untroubled by human rights, and so keen that products should be bought at the cheapest place this market suggests, which one of their lectures says used to be Canton near the coast but moves further and further inland as wages rise. (The video is no longer online but we taxpayers paid for it to be made by Own-It and London College of Fashion, who are both the same thing, and showed a fashion graduate who sold fur products, initially made in the UK but, she said, paid for with various special knacks to make that profitable before she took her business to China). 

University of the Arts was lead contractor with various red brick London Universities to the Higher Education Funding Council money to put UK designers and manufacturers in front of Chinese and far-eastern manufactures, in hope of benefiting both sides. They got the grant. It was called "Creative Connexions" and ran for a few years from 2005 onwards in hope of future commercial continuation.. This is a quote from the funding bid.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/creative_connexions_brief_and_bu_2#comment-7512
"Key Project Partners
The core partnership is strategically complementary and has a track record of designing, managing and delivering on major publicly funded projects including large--scale research projects and knowledge transfer under HEIF 2. It brings together
University of the Arts London (the lead partner)
LBS [presumably London Business School]
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Kings College London
Centre for Creative Business (a UAL/ LBS joint venture)

The partnership features universities recognised as leading UK institutions with 5/5*research grades, which through well established networks are already very active internationally in student recruitment, course delivery and knowledge transfer. The partners are well known to each other, have very good working relationships and share the ‘big picture’ with respect to their strategic international development." - funding bid for Higher Education Funding by University of the Arts

The funding bid shows how these institutions are known to government departments and each other from their shared recruitment work, and how they do it. They make irrelevant statements, such as research intensity which is not very relevant to undergraduate courses, and they make misleading statements such as "recognised as leading", for courses at the bottom of league tables for student satisfaction. So I suggest that some method of making them write more clearly to prospective students and funders would be a good thing.

I believe that London College of Fashion and its associated companies help UK industry and taxpayers as a Cuckoo chick helps the other chicks. It begs for grants and government help with an enormous beak, which I imagine is a PR department and I know succeeds alongside Greater London Authority's London Fashion Week and associated Graduate Fashion Week, and Fashion Scout, and UAL Ventures Ltd (standing for University of the Arts) which ran Creative Connexions to promote Chinese manufacturing in the UK. Another UAL Venture was a group of seminars called "Making it ethically in China".

I don't know if Cuckoo chicks attack other chicks in the nest or just crowd them out like this - a conversation between a journalist and a Nike contractor described as an ethical fashion expert and working with a trade association that gets taxpayer subsidy. I do know that London College of Fashion tutors make similar points to the Nike consultant here:

Adam Vaughan, journalist:

"If we can generally guess what the problems are, can we shop by country, picking good ones and bad ones? Usually you can see where a product was made."

Clare Lissaman, Nike consultant who got the interview because of UK taxpayer support for Futerra Communications' "Ethical Fashion Forum".

"I don't think you can compare countries. You're just as likely to have a sweatshop down the road here in London in the east end as you are in China, India or Bangladesh. One of the best factories I've come across in the world was in China. One of the worst factories I've come across in the world was in China."
I single-out London College of Fashion because it does so much to damage UK manufacturing and crowd-out press coverage of UK manufacturers, but there are other bad art and design courses too at the bottom of the Guardian league table, and they are also colleges with a lot of international students: Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Economics courses that are a danger to the economy because some people take them seriously

You can read a detailed 2013 report about Mancherster Uni's "unlearning"
http://www.post-crasheconomics.com/economics-education-and-unlearning/
or more generally...
theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/24/students-post-crash-economics

theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/28/economics-students-neoclassical-theory
theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/09/the-econocracy-review-joe-earle-cahal-moran-zach-ward-perkins

bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04svjbj

... and find that these are largely a set of cheap-to-teach short courses based on wrote-learning; only 11 out of 48 options at Manchester mentioned the word "critical" in their descriptions, and few other universities are much better. Even the protest group regards teaching of theories-before-application as normal - they just want more different theories. The idea of starting with a factual problem, and for students to make-up their own theories or pick-out the most useful, is not mentioned. University College London says it's starting the system; maybe results haven't shown-up in the student satisfaction scores yet.

Standard in my English degree, when I studied English and Economics at Keele, but not in Economics. Standard in a thing called Nuffield Physica A level that I did at the start of the 80s, but again not in Economics.

Here are some problems with economics teaching.

  • The lack of public administration on the economics syllabus relates to the idea of UK economics graduates becoming "ambassadors" for Britain; they become ambassadors for the country in the textbook, which is more like Bangladesh with its sweatshops. I don't see this point made anywhere else than here.
  • The problem of wrong theory taught and
  • without critical thinking is mentioned in the guardian and BBC reports, with Manchester as an example. My own experience in the 1980s was not much better.
  • Theory not applied - a problem noted from unistats scores which I quote below. 
  • It's often done in high-rent areas, particularly central London, with the effect of increasing rents and transport over-crowding.
    Other common features of the colleges that have large numbers of international students are my own impression . (I wrote another blog post about low-scoring degree courses called "star courses" a few years ago)

public administration not mentioned in economics courses

Economics courses include macro-economics. Macro-economics courses do not normally mention half of the economy, that runs insurance-like services which people use at some points in their lives and pay for through their working lives. There is no discussion of why these industries tend to end-up funded from tax or compulsory insurance payments in Europe, and what happens in countries with much less public service like Bangladesh (the answer is that they have vast families in hope of family support). Instead, if you study the history of economics teaching, or if you had a 1950s McArthy-era American teaching you face to face, you discover that macro-economics teaching alarmed college sponsors in 1950s America. They boycotted the first textbook that mentioned Keynesian demand management during the 1930s recession. Eventually it got on the syllabus, but compulsory national insurance didn't; that was a step too far for republicans, and there are misleading definitions of "public goods" and "merit goods" taught instead. So economics graduates are not ambassadors for the UK when they move away; they are ambassadors for 1950s America, and likely to retain sweatshops in places like Bangladesh that put people in the UK out of work.

Wrong theory

Evidence for damage to the economy is obvious - the Queen asked LSE lecturers why none of their theories predicted the banking crash and got no answer. There are some other points.

Uncritical thinking

Critical thinking is needed everywhere. It's vital. But the minister's letter to the migration advisory committee is full of cliches and conventional wisdom held by lobby groups, suggesting, I think, a lack of critical thinking. In contrast, a Department for Business report on international students found that the expectation of critical thinking was something that attracted them to study in the UK. There is also a web page by the University and College Union which graphs the average staff student ratio in higher education colleges in similar countries to the UK, and puts the ratio at about highest or lowest (highest students to lowest staff) in the UK. I guess this is important if someone is going to take the time to write "this is an unexpected opinion but..." on an essay, or hold a tutorial group, or remember a students' name in that tutorial group.

theory not applied

Economics or finance-related courses are common choices for international students, but it's hard to imagine any course like that being useful if not applied, and the courses score badly for that. So when a statement is made like "contributes X jobs to the UK economy", there are not many people with the skills to apply the maths and the stats and refute the statement. When I check the current University College London page for economics https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/undergraduate/degrees/economics-bsc-econ/ .. it states that "The department's fundamental premise is that students should learn how to do economics themselves, rather than just learn how the academic staff or other economists do it.", so there is a chance that student feedback scores will get better soon as this new system sounds good. I also read that overseas students are charged £20,000 a year, I guess just for tuition and lectures, so the economic theory of how UCL digests these huge amounts of money is probably not taught.

common features of colleges with high numbers of international undergraduates

The same list  of colleges / quangos / grant artists / cuckoos / bureaucracies / institutions / corporations have bad student feedback on unistats for their economics courses, which is no surprise given the syllabus I read on the University College London web site for economics: it is not fit for purpose. So I think that success at filling places with overseas students masks failure to provide a good economics course to any student. I pick economics because it is a course I studied myself. It is also a marmite course: when you dislike it, you know that you dislike it. I pick overseas students because the consultation picked that group. It's interested in population in places like central London or Oxford where there are a lot of people, but the market failure in selling economics courses is the same for students who...
  • look at the college more than the course when applying
  • have no idea of the ratio of teaching staff to students on their course, or even whether it runs tutorials and how many people are on each one. This data doesn't get listed on Unistats for some reason
  • are impressed by research intensity which doesn't improve their degree course
  • mistakenly think their degree is a trade qualification, or
  • read words like "vibe" and "buzz" on college prospectuses and think they'll get it on a Monday morning in rush-hour in a town centre. I'm thinking of a London College of Fashion prospectus I read in about 2005, which hardly mentioned the syllabus at all and didn't mention the staff ratio.
The consultation briefing paper notes that Indian students numbers are falling off; maybe they've learned to read the Unistats scores.

Jottings and ideas about economics degrees done by international students

Most of the colleges are ones which were well-known 50 years ago. If they were hotels, they would be called "The Grand". Most are in city centres - mainly London - where 55,700 extra people extra people crowd-out other housing, transport users and businesses. Oxford is just as expensive. I suspect that Unistats no longer quotes housing costs next to each course as it used to - or maybe I've missed the link or it's on another web site,  but it's another point which overseas students miss. Most colleges on the list are proud of their research record, suggesting that they are more interested in paid research, consultancy, and postgraduate teaching than degrees - except as a source of revenue.

No course: Edinburgh, Glasgow would rather stop teaching economics than teach properly

The first two were mentioned in a Guardian report alongside Manchester and LSE as teaching courses so bad that students wanted to protest. One of them - probably Glasgow - assigned all first year teaching to the online robots that come with the textbooks and will mark test results. Students called the year a "£9,000 lobotomy". Now it looks as though the colleges and existing staff would rather give-up teaching economics degrees at all than run them properly. A year or two ago I did check student feedback for the degree courses, which existed then, and found the feedback bad. 

Economics degrees at University of Newcastle

Newcastle University has some of the lowest unistats feedback scores, probably for running a discredited "BSc" economics degree. In its favor, I guess that rents around Newcastle are low because of economic mismanagement by UK governments over the years, which I doubt the course mentions. 47% of students thought that staff made the subject interesting, and only 50% thought the course allowed them to apply what they had learned, so calling it a science is a bit odd. I mean: in Biology you look at biological things with microscopes and rulers as well as learning someone's theory, don't you? You don't just learn wrong theory and get told you'll have to do a postgraduate course to learn what a real dandelion looks like.

Coventry University economics degree course looks popular - an exception

An exception to the pattern of bad feedback is Coventry University, which has a high proportion of overseas students and gets good student feedback for its economics course.

Notes for a response

The gist of a response is that it is bad to rip-off economics students, particularly those from a long way away who haven't checked the course and the student feedback. A second point in the response is that there is no benefit to luring people into very expensive town centres - not for them or from other people in the town centres. A third point is that some courses are really bad. For one historical reason or another, they teach misleading facts, useless theory, or un-usable skills. And that is before the college management decide to tweak the staff ratio so the course makes a lot of money to spend on something more eye-catching or on sales and PR. So these courses should be allowed to close for everybody's sake, rather than used to con overseas students into thinking they're worth three years and £9,000 fees in the high teens each year. Universities UK are keen on overseas student places, http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2014/international-students-in-higher-education.pdf - p38 ... but I don't see how further overcrowding in London can boost employment, nor how they calculate their figures. They quote Oxford Economics, who wrote a discredited report (I think) called "The Value of Fashion",

Suggestions

Visas require some online tick-boxing by prospective students, so they tick a box to say they have checked...
  • faults to look-out for on courses like the one they have applied to
  • student feedback for the course applied for (not for research quality if it an undergraduate degree for example, but the actual course)
  • economics degree applicants should understand that compulsory social insurance is a good way of explaining most of the things that the public sector does, and that an economics degree without a public administration element is worth avoiding.
That way, the bad economics courses might die a rapid death and be replaced by something sane. Just in case anyone reads this far, here are notes in progress about bad economics courses and how they keep themselves going by luring-in overseas students. It needs reformatting and some of the columns are just cut-and pasted out of Complete University Guide; they don't help.

Footnote on sources:

https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/Research--Policy/Statistics/International-student-statistics-UK-higher-education quotes these colleges as having highest numbers of overseas students, and says that finance and business related subjects are most popular.
I take the examples of economics and of footwear, because I have studied similar courses so can try to explain the data.

The first three columns are numbers of overseas students, with a link to recent unistats feedback on the first column.

My choice of Economics might not be typical of "business and administrative studies" courses that I read are popular with international students. I don't yet know how to do a fuller comparison of the percentage of international students on all UK courses and student feedback on those courses, or either of those compared to rent in the areas where students live and study. There is a footnote on free data available.

I mention Universities UK's report by Oxford Economics on my long post of notes in progress: https://veg-buildlog.blogspot.com/2018/01/httpswwwgovukgovernmentconsultationspro.html

Footnote on data:

I emailed the Higher Education Funding Council asking if they had free data linking student satisfaction to the percentage of international students on each course, for example each undergraduate degree course in economics.
I can confirm that we do have some free data available on our website which should help answer your question. The most recent data we currently have published is 2015/16, and there are some free tables to download from this page: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/publications/students-2015-16 The one you may be particularly interested in is Table F: Percentage of HE students by subject area, mode of study, sex and domicile We only really categorise courses by the subject taught, and the breakdown in the above table is the highest level of detail. Another table with a more granular breakdown of subject can be found here: Students by subject although this is just a count rather than percentage. Further tables can be found on this page: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/key-tables
International Student Barometer is a site I discovered after writing this post. I haven't checked what's free and public on the site and what you have to pay for
I see that my choice of economics wasn't neat. Somewhere I saw a reference that said they most study "business and administrative studies", a heading including these sub-headings.
  • Business studies
  • Management studies
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Human resource management
  • Office skills
  • Hospitality, leisure, sport, tourism & transport
  • Others in business & administrative studies
  • Broadly-based programmes within business & administrative studies 
There are probably pages on the Guardian University Guide, Complete University Guide or others for all business and administrative studies scores together by college, and results might differ a lot from Economics scores, because Economics is a rather troubled subject with a history of dis-satisfaction.

Within these categories I happen to know that University of East London's Hospitality and Tourism course had one of the lowest graduate employment rates of any UK degree course, when these things were more easily searchable on the Unistats site in about 2015.

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