Showing posts with label migration advisory committee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label migration advisory committee. Show all posts

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. 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.

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.
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.
"The course is intellectually stimulating", or worth study at all.
"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.
"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.
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  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 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 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. 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.
"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"
or more generally...

... 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 .. 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, - 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",


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: 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:

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: 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:
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.

🖨 For a printer-friendly version of this page, try the "text" option from a recent cache on Google or Bing. That's from the downward-pointing arrow next to the link on search results. Or a cut-and-paste to a word processor.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Migration Advisory Committee call for evidence: International Students

Impact of International Students in the UK: 
Call for Evidence Responses - part 1 of 3 - page 217 from "Individual C" it says.

Introduction: some suggestions with reasons further-down.
shows economics courses with worst student feedback getting most international students, and so making most money because some of the international fees are much higher.

This response is made without funding and without great short-term memory so it rambles under some of the headings. Thanks for patience in reading the bits that ramble, particularly because I've just written something quite rude and the theme continues. My name and address are at the end, with archive links to pages that caught the 26th January deadline for evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee.

Lobby data doesn't mention "crowding" or "full" next to student migration
The Greater London Authority changes it to "agglomeration"

Lobby data is commissioned by lobbyists from Oxford Economics or London Economics.

Crowding is my word for housing & transport overload that could be mentioned under most of the headings below. For housing, or tickets, or space in the congestion zone, or polluted air, or tiny bits of space shared with too many people. As someone who lives in a crowded city, I don't think it works very well. Any provider of services finds it expensive to hire staff and space in crowded inner cities, and so harder to run services. Meanwhile there are disproportionate needs for staff to run parts of the housing and transport systems at inefficient maximum capability, just as health and social care are run at maximum capacity everywhere. It would be good to read about why immigration is bad for cities that are full from the most full city - London - but any statements are hard to find.

The Greater London Authority publishes speeches from the Mayor and reports from GLA economics. Unfortunately they report what lobbyists tell them, except lobbyists don't mention "crowding" or "full", while the GLA mentions "agglomeration".

International students often take courses with bad feedback, in expensive areas like London

If both colleges closed, the world would be a happier place.
Both teach in the most expensive areas of London.
Both do a lot of business with government, for example through London Fashion Week, working with the Greater London Authority on the Queen Elizabeth Park Project, or teaching students on Chevening Scholarships, so governement departments could be making the problem worse or have a chance to make it better.

I don't have the spreadsheet data or the skill to link every course's feedback with the proportion of international students on that course. The data isn't free and I am not deft with spreadsheets, but the example of a troubled subject like economics at the colleges that take most international students, most often in financial subjects, could say something about all the other courses that international students do. By chance a lot of international students from the far east study at London College of Fashion and other University of the Arts colleges, putting them in the same league table of colleges with most international students which is nearly the same as the league table of colleges with least satisfied students, as you can see on (archived page)
When the Migration Advisory Committee published their report, with access to paid-for data and some quite nifty regression skills, they read the evidence a differently.  gives the result in Annex D. The difference is partly that they measure satisfaction on the "overall" measure rather than "intellectually stimulating", and they measure all courses rather than the extreme ones like business studies courses in central London. Beyond, that, I have not quite caught-up.

How to help international students find better courses in cheaper areas.

The Higher Education Funding Council

could restrict funding to colleges that advertise badly abroad, and restrict funding to one or two colleges that work directly against the interests of UK taxpayers, UK students and UK manufacturing like London College of Fashion that ran a Creative Connexions project and published course material and case studies about fictional organisations related to Ethical Fashion Forum for the Department for International Development. I think that a record of publications that are untrue, and of hosting a Creative Connexions project  designed to reduce UK manufacturing, should be a big factor in whether the college gets further funding. I think London College of Fashion should not get further funding from UK taxpayers via the higher education funding council. I don't know if any can be clawed back.  

The Advertising Standards Authority

has already required six colleges to withdraw vague and misleading claims:  

The British Council

service to promote higher education can be changed to offer course advice rather than promoting colleges. I understand that the British Council is largely funded by the Foreign Office and it might get a Department for Business grant for this work. At the moment it offers an extra service to colleges that pay more. I think this should stop, because it encourages the promotion of colleges over courses and so promotes bad courses.

Home Office

visa application systems could have an online form with a few questions, to check that students know what syllabus they have applied to study, know the Unistats feedback and the relative housing costs, and have not seen too much vague language on the prospectus.
The form could ask prospective students to cut and paste the syllabus from Unistats or one of a list of sites that compile the data. The same idea could be taken much further and maybe staff at Unistats could advise how - for example a check that applicants know the common faults of each type of course according to impartial staff, who might say it doesn't lead to a job in the form applied-for and that some other combination is better, or graduates and drop-outs, who might say that it's boring or list things they wish they'd known when they applied. "London is expensive and anonymous". Things like that.

The Home Office could do this for all applications backed by colleges. The college would then have to tell the applicant how to fill-in the form, and avoid using vague words on their prospectus.

Foreign Office

"The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is once again the top destination for 2012/13 Chevening Scholars, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has reported"  - LSE web site

Cease Chevening Scholarships to
  • economics courses that don't mention the welfare state, or
  • courses with bad student feedback or
  • courses taught in the most crowded areas.
The current system is that people from other countries get student grants which are not available to UK taxpayers, to learn how to mis-manage the system which UK taxpayers pay for, take-up space in city centres while they are doing it, and then go home to other countries and run them just as badly.They are part of the critical mass which keeps these awful courses open.

What impact does the payment

of migrant student fees

to the educational provider have?

  • Migrant fees from outside the EU are about double per head, with double impact.

  • Migrants are worse at choosing courses, so the worst course makes the most money.

Any other group of students who are easily-led or mis-led have the same bad effect, but students who pay double fees have a multiplied bad effect. Everybody looses including the student, home students sitting alongside, anyone who would benefit from better educated students, or another educational provider looking for students and a chance to do a better course that's more interesting to study or teach. So even the people who teach Economics 101 at London School of Economics suffer a bad impact from migrant students, because they loose a chance to teach a more interesting course in a cheaper area.

Social Insurance & Allied Services

Take the welfare state as an example of something probably not taught on the worst course like London School of Economics' Economics degree, but more interesting to teach at another course to more interested students in a cheaper area. The standard LSE course takes two years to get to the point, during which you are taught how to be a computer. Then in year three you can take various courses which don't include how to fund the welfare state. You can take a course in Game Theory but not how to keep a hospital open. That topic is banished to minor courses with more obscure names - maybe Public Administration nor something like that, as though you would know at the age of 18 to apply for a course in public administration and economics, if it exists.

If a course began with problems that other people face, told students what theories were available, and let them choose the relevant ones, then a lot of time would be saved, leaving time to teach what students wanted to study.

I think this bad teaching influences our politicians. If you ask one how to fund the NHS, they don't know what to say. The Prime Minister was caught with the question and said "people are getting older", and I doubt many prime ministers could have answered better. A bit like a rocket scientist saying "it just goes pop and there's mess everywhere". Or a brain surgeon.

What are the fiscal impacts of migrant students, (including student loan arrangements)?

Crowding costs are the obvious urgent problem, but not mentioned in lobby data.

I think the fiscal cost of public services rises more per head as crowding increases, as a curve, so it is less per head in Lampeter and more per head in London. I think the data funded by lobby groups via Oxford Economics or London Economics is silent here, as you would expect. London Economics does do some work to try and price public services per head in different constituencies, but only has two zones for health spending, and has a theory that some categories of public spending are much higher in Wales for example, so I don't think their figures help and they don't state how the figures are worked-out.

Take housing.

Housing is more expensive to manage if it is scarce and expensive than if nobody cares about a months’ vacancy or qualification for a special needs waiting list. There used to be some hotels around Argyle Square and Gower Street that might take a guest on housing benefit and advertised in Loot. I expect the guest had to be convincing at some kind of interview and provide lots of ID, but they did it, making a lot of social housing provision unnecessary. Now that housing benefit is harder to get and housing costs in Camden are about the highest in the UK, I doubt you can still get a hotel room on housing benefit. Gower Street is also the main address for London University; prices round Gower Street and Camden and London are increased by London University's trade

Take transport.

I guess rail journeys cost more per ticket at capacity than at half capacity. Signaling, unsocial hours, and emergencies cost more at full capacity. Journeys cost more than the ticket price if one emergency stops a line from working for an hour, as they do in central London. As the limits to capacity are tested, it becomes clear that money cannot buy more tube tunnels, cubic meters of air to disperse exhaust fumes, linear meters of traffic lane or parking space, seats in existing transport, miles of commute that commutes are willing to endure. There are congestion charges in London but some streets are still too polluted by EU standards. So all services in central London have to beat the cost of harder deliveries and harder commutes. And transport is one of the more measurable factors, along with housing prices.

There are plenty of less measurable fiscal costs to the numbers of public sector staff needed, the stress to them, the cost of staff turnover or bad staff, and the fiscal cost of extra wages paid to make-up. The fact that shortage occupations include emergency medicine and old-age psychiatry suggest, in part, that not enough people are trained but they also suggest that not enough people want the job at any wage after a few years in post, quite likely because of strains related to overcrowding, lack of social care in overcrowded areas, high staff turnover among colleagues, and so-on.

Take lobby data about international students: a repeated point

Lobbyists fund data.
Universities UK finds reports from Oxford Economics; other lobbyists fund London Economics. Lobbyists want taxpayer funding or student fees, so they don’t pay for data about overcrowding and its fiscal costs, obviously. Not obvious to elected mayors of London or ministers, but obvious. Mayors and ministers have a puppy-like enthusiasm for trotting-out this stuff out in speeches after going on a visit and shaking someone's hand.

So as taxpayers, we read claims of benefits and have to un-pick them, un-paid, to state the costs to officials & politicians. If we send these opinions in, as I did to Sadiq Khan about a different way of funding London Fashion Week, we might get an acknowledgement from their secretaries, or might not, and then we see their next speech with the puppy-like enthusiasm for lobby data because I suppose they have met someone in person and shaken their hand and believed every word.

The Mayor of London uses taxes to fund some economists directly. Their office is called GLA Economics. I hoped they would have a report on crowding of housing and transport, and so the need to have less visitors to London as students or tourists or arts audience or lured-in tech employees or any other category.
This is an example report:
Their web site does mention rising population, pollution, an a graph of median earnings falling against housing costs over time. This looks like an argument for less crowding.

Next to these chapters are other pages about the need to bring more business and visitors into London: an argument for more crowding. This is the clash between evidence and policy that I do not understand, and seems so blatant that I do not know how to argue against it except by stating the obvious point about over-crowding under every heading. On a closer look, it seems that the mayor has come back from a lobby meeting, dropped-in to the GLA Economics office, and told economists to cross-out "crowding" or "full" and write "agglomeration". I have the odd quote below.

Fiscal cost of crowding:

(could be repeated under "how much money ... spending ... impact ... regional")

This is the most important point and could sit under several headings, including fiscal costs of governing an over-crowded expensive town like London with staff on Inner London Weighting, Congestion charges, long commutes, excessive staff turnover, extra services like traffic control and congestion charging, extra costs of running services over without spare capacity for housing or social care, and so-on. Some of this is a personal cost to the person who tries to work for Haringay Social Services or such; some of it is cost to the taxpayer, and some is cost to the people who try to use these creaky services run by temps from all over the place. I pick that example because it is described in the Victoria Climbie Enquiry's report.

The briefing paper notes a report on education healthcare and social services spending, which are not much used by people of student age.

I think it's obvious that the crowding ads to the cost of those services. They have to be run without enough beds, bedsits, flats, transport seats, meters of traffic lane, parking spaces, or cubic meters of air to disperse exhaust fumes. This makes each service, from social care to education to housing, more slow and stressful to manage. There is a congestion charge. There are 24 hour traffic monitors trying to keep traffic moving even so, and people working full-time on the cameras that catch people on certain yellow box junctions when the traffic jam strands them there. All these extra public services have fiscal costs, even if those costs are funded by traffic fines or tickets

Meanwhile, reports from lobby groups have nothing to say.
Oxford Economics mention no costs, if I remember right. I have linked to the part of their report that states working methods.

London Economics does mention some costs or "fiscal impacts". One of their reports costs public costs and benefits by parliamentary constituency, and if there is a vital part that I have missed it is in how they cost public services per head in Westminster or Coleraine or West Highlands. Their main report is more national.

Costs of Hosting International Students
⦁ Funding Council Teaching Grants
⦁ Costs of Student Support
⦁ The Other Public Costs of Hosting International Students
⦁ Total
⦁ Other Public Costs for Students and Dependents

This is the only lobby data I have seen which mentions higher costs in Gower Street, Camden, London, than in Coleraine or West Highlands. The calculation is rough, and opaque. It calculates that health costs £729 in some regions and £529 in others - there are only two bands. General public services are cheap in London, it estimates, at £84 compared to £159 in Wales. The calculation is kept private. So I don't think that lobby data helps any more than GLA Economics in making sense of the cost of crowding


Fiscal cost of scholarships to international students:

Most international students are over-charged by the colleges, but some are subsidised by the taxpayer through scholarships, I understand, even though the same taxpayer no longer gets a student grant themselves.
The Great China scholarship fund is worth a million pounds says and the Great India scholarship fund looks similar. There is an EU Erasmus program which I don't understand. The Chevening Fund is for students "personally selected" by British embassies "Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations", meaning that it is funded by removing money from the welfare state.
A million pounds pays for 1890 average peoples' health costs a year at the lower rate, according to London Economics prices, but Oxford Economics says that this is only a tiny percentage of the public service funded by taxes on international students' spending. For example they spend a lot on transport - London Economics has a pictogram. They have to spend a lot on transport because some of them have courses held in London's Oxford Street. I am getting confused.

If you are not a courtier but just live in the UK and pay taxes, I understand that you can only get a student loan for fees and maintenance, charged at 7%, repayable in installments if you ever earn an average income. The government pays interest at a much lower rate, but does not pass-on the saving and ministers have stated that the scheme makes no money; it makes a big mark-up but the system is expensive to run and a lot of people don't ever make an average wage with which to repay their student loan.

Fiscal cost of unraveling the statements

There is no government grant for un-ravelling the statements made by Oxford Economics or London Economics for public-funded organisations that want more taxpayers' money. I think that's a bit unfair because they use taxpayers' money to pay for the reports:

"The economic activity and employment sustained by international students’ subsistence spending generated £1 billion in tax revenues in 2014–15 – equivalent to the salaries of 31,700 nurses or 25,000 police officers"

London Economics did similar research for one sponsor and something called the "Higher Education Policy Institute", (registered charity number 1099645) named to confuse by the look of it. They ran a dinner event with the title "challenger institutions: useful competition or unhelpful disruption?" and invited a minister or MP along. So they are probably the same bunch as the other sponsor, Kaplan, which is a crammer that wants to be called a University and gets a fiscal subsidy for the PR by calling it a charity.

London Economics' account of jobs created does not mention jobs lost as a result of so many students studying bad courses in crowded places. London Economics' estimate might make sense at Coleraine in Northern Ireland, or the West Highlands, or in County Durham. Areas where there are empty bedsits, and if this isn't always true, then the less measurable claims of benefit make-up. Maybe students add variety and connections and bring skills, or maybe they make businesses viable that would otherwise not be viable, such as cheap clubs and venues that local people can also use. Unfortunately I think that most areas are more crowded than this.

The most crowded area is London if you measure by property prices.

Universities UK's report from Oxford Economics quotes this about London:
 £1327m      off-campus expenditure
 £2.714bn    export earnings.
 8,855       jobs created by spending (it doesn't say on or off campus)

There are no notes and queries attached, which is a worry.

A politician or a civil servant could simply take these figures as given. Just as a lot take the cliches as given - "world class", for example. Manchester University economics students have noted the lack of critical thinking allowed on one of the very courses that attracts a lot of international students and supplies graduates to the civil service or parliament.

I doubt any of these figures helps.

Off campus expenditure would be spent by other people in London who would be allowed-in if international students were not there. The people priced-out, who commute-in. They would also be less tired and more enterprising, maybe talking to children more or sleeping or doing a more fun job with lower prospects or earnings or hanging around clubs and bars and venues. People who do whatever common people do.

Fiscal benefit of VAT and other taxes on the supply chain for off-campus spending

This requires modelling that is not easy for most of us to challenge although I would welcome a chance if there's any need for specific feedback, or if anyone with more up-do-date skills wants to do it with me.
... is the report commissioned by a lobby group
... is the part that quotes their reporting methods
including student loan arrangements?
(I don't know any relevant evidence to send to the migration advisory committee.

There could be a chance for UK students to build their student loan into the state national insurance scheme, so that, if they have a high income throughout their lives, maybe they get a state pension years later than someone who has worked in mining from the age of 16 for example.
It is frustrating that UK government cannot afford student grants to people in the UK, but does grant them to people in China or India as part of a scholarship scheme, and does still grant research work to universities in large amounts)

Do migrant students help support employment in educational institutions?

Crowding can be mentioned under each heading,

...such as long commutes or high local housing costs.

How much money do migrant students spend in the national, regional and local economy and what is the impact of this?

Crowding can be mentioned under each heading.

Housing spending will crowd-out other potential users of the land, or the specific floor space if students rent privately.
Transport spending will raise the congestion charge, or crowd–out other users of public transport

How do migrant students affect the educational opportunities available to UK students?

To what extent does the demand from migrant students for UK education dictate the supply of that education provision and the impact of this on UK students?

I take these together, under Quantity, where I state that I'm confused, and Quality, where I state some examples that come-around again other other questions.


A couple of reports note international demand for courses otherwise harder to run.

So far as the quantity of teaching goes, I think the reports make sense, but they have not said why these courses lack a critical mass of home students - maybe because of faults in schools or bad choices made by prospective students, or lack of wealth among home students.

Quantity of numerate home applicants - overlapping with points about quality

If UK schools don't provide numerate applicants for courses, there is a work-around:
"Abandoning Economics because of an inadequate supply of numerate applicants ignores the availability of first-year modules to improve students’ mathematical skills, something which universities are expected to do much more now" - A Management School for Keele, 2009, Keele University and College Union, p38

Better still, there could also be ways of teaching a technical course with mathematics taught in context, as needed, to solve real problems, rather than taught for its own dry sake in the first two years of the course, including maths that doesn't get used.


The reports suggest that post-graduate study is strategically important. But. How could home students possibly afford it? Why aren't their first degrees sufficient to teach them to study by themselves without further help? What does it mean for their job prospects when applicants from wealthy backgrounds have two degrees and they only have one? Does a first degree get dumbed-down and un-critical in a college where so many students are postgraduates? Do the conventional wisdoms about how the world works get influenced by the wealthy. international backgrounds of so many students? How does an employer distinguish between a rich but useless person with two degrees and poor useful person with one degree? Who empties the bins while so many young fit people are on courses?

Lobby reports don't clarify, despite repeating their point often.

"Graduates entering employment predominantly move into management, banking and finance and the civil service.", according to University College London economics department, and I find that rather frightening when I think of the problems of economics teaching in the UK.

I simply quote some paragraphs, to show the arguments I mean, before moving-on to

A further benefit for UK HEIs from the presence of international students has been cited as their role in achieving critical mass for teaching on some courses, including some which may have declined in popularity with home students. In some STEM subjects especially, the proportion of international students may be relatively high in some institutions, and without the presence of those students the course would become unsustainable, thereby reducing the range of courses available to UK students at certain institutions. The make-up of some course groups reported by the alumni supported this view. Any such reductions of course availability could have potential long-term impact on the UK stock of strategic skills.
These issues also arise in relation to postgraduate research study.
- BIS (2013) The wider benefits of international higher education in the UK

The same point is made for Universities UK by Oxford Economics several times in different parts of their report
International student fee income accounted for 13% of sector income in 2013–14, and demand from international students can support the provision of certain strategically- important subjects in the UK (eg engineering, technology and computer science, particularly at postgraduate level where around half of all students are from outside the EU).
Universities UK (2014) International Students in Higher Education

Quality: I said this under "impact" but it could just a well go here,

  • Migrant fees are about double home fees if non-EU, so have double the impact.

  • Migrants are worse at choosing courses, so the worst course makes the most money.

Any other group of students who are easily-led or easily mis-led have the same bad effect. Everybody looses including the student, home students sitting alongside, anyone who would benefit from better educated students, or another educational provider looking for students.

Take one example. Economics students are often not trained in how to fund the welfare state. That syllabus is banished to an obscure degree subject called Public Administration. So, if you ask an MP about funding the NHS, they don't know what to say. The Prime Minister was caught with the question and said "people are getting older", and I doubt any of the last few prime ministers could have answered any better.

There is a table of data showing economics course feedback scores for the colleges with most international students, showing that most have the worst student feedback. (26/1/18 )

International students choose by college rather than by course

A student might decide to study economics, and then choose a college by things like a web site that says "world class", "foremost", "vibrant buzz", rather than checking what kind of syllabus the college teaches and how satisfied previous students were. Politicians seem to make the same mistake in allowing business deals with these colleges and quoting their lobbyists word for word.
One graduate, Pok Wong, is taking Anglia Ruskin University to court over its false claims of graduate employment prospects, and the Advertising Standards Authority has required six universities to change their prospectuses, according to 
The colleges and The British Council advertise by college rather than by course.  And international students say that they choose by college rather than by course. The Survey of Graduating International Students found that "recognition of UK qualifications, the university reputation and the language" were important. On the other hand, there was no question about the course itself, so a different survey might get a different result.

I guess that home student applicants choose by college rather than course as well, but are getting more sophisticated with help from Unistats and the spin-off private sector sites, and other students' own rueful feedback scores on courses like LSE Economics. In a way, students are getting a vote about how their courses are going to be run. Meanwhile, more and more institutions are getting degree-awarding powers. The parental role of institutions in trying to provide courses that applicants should apply-for is replaced by a market force to provide what the student does apply-for, and maybe regrets later. Like a very boring course in how to be an astronaut, which doesn't lead to an astronaut job at the end because it doesn't teach how to make a space ship. There are lots of courses like that. Fashion design for example.

Engineering or Computer Science courses

I wrote a blog post called "star courses" about the courses with the worst student feedback and the least related employment for graduates. One such was a group of Portsmouth University graduates in Petroleum Engineering, if I remember right, who did not have the resources to drill for oil once they had left the university at the age of 22 with no savings. I don't know of any survey which says why so many Portsmouth Petroleum graduates have poor job prospects, but guess there's a common theme in most of them that the scale of operation, and the technical tools, make it hard to apply the skills except by getting one of the rare jobs on an oil rig at the other end of the UK.

On the other hand, there are shortage occupations for the more technical product designers. So there is a problem to be un-picked about how some engineering courses are popular because they help get a job, some are unpopular in hindsight because they don't get a job, and what can be done.

If I could find the lobby quote, I think it would say that international students help "particularly at post graduate level"  and I have to ask: why can't they study at home without paying fees to a college? Maybe they loose more than most.

Some examples of courses which get a lot of international students and a lot of bad student feedback.

Leeds College of Health, circa 1996.

I was myself on a distance learning course, advertised as part of Leeds University but in fact run by Leeds College of Health, a mental health training organisation which was unable to provide any contact at all with tutors, and lost its last one, I think while I was on the course. I think it collapsed at that point. (A successor organisation exists for addiction studies and it, too, has closed to new students "following a review" - I find it un-nerving that Leeds University still allows its name to be used by some related organisation )

What I noticed was that most of the distance learning students were from Pakistan, and another large proportion were paid-for by a health trust in Yorkshire. I suspect that these two groups of students were less likely to complain, and less likely to know what to expect, than a self-funded student. I suspect that's why the course survived as long as it did and my chances of study were reduced instead of increased, because someone could have set-up a proper college and I could have found it if Leeds College of Health had never existed. And so the demand from those migrant students and employer-funded students reduced the supply of education to me, with a bad impact on how well I did my job and on my job prospects. Current unistats data would single-out the course and force closure a little sooner than in 2002.

Manchester University Economics degree, quoted in 2013
100% of marks awarded by multiple choice exam for both Principles modules in first year.
UK Micro and Macro have 90% awarded by multiple choice exams and the other 10% is an essay. However, this essay is only 1,000 words long and students get 100% for handing it in on time. This means that many students don’t widely research the topic or fully engage with the material.
Micro and Macro Principles are a delivery of neoclassical theory and students are expected to learn the theory by rote.
There is no mention of what school of thought is being taught or that there are any other schools of thought. It is presented as facts about the world which leads to the possibility of students believing that these ideas represent indisputable truths

The largest recruiter of overseas students - UCL - now claims to have improved its syllabus:
The news has not reached their page on the complete university guide for 2018 admission

If graduates are produced who don't look things up or think things through, and haven't quite got the right skills for self-employment, there must be an effect on the demand for graduates. One measure of this, I think, is the number of people who do post-graduate courses that I know very little about.

Example of bad quality offered to international students:
University of the Arts London College of Fashion Footwear degree

Last I heard, Clarks asks students to design some prototype uppers each year, but not the soles because those require engineering which the college doesn't teach. Meanwhile, one of the shortage occupations is "product development engineer; product design engineer" under an engineering heading.

Anecdotal examples that human rights and democracy are not much mentioned by
Lobbying of mayors such as Khan: " It's great that so many people want to come to London to study fashion". I disagree, but the effect of un-democratic lobbying is greater, I think, than the democratic pressure to make london a less crowded place to live,

What is the impact of migrant students on the demand for

⦁ housing provision

⦁ transport (particularly local transport)

⦁ health provision

Crowding is the main point here.

The Planning Act prevents building to meet demand; Britain is overcrowded in most places. British manufacturing shrank more than manufacturing in similar countries, I think, during a period of high exchange rates from 1979-2009. That left the jobs disproportionately in the areas where service industries are common, rather than in Belfast or Tyneside

So there is a lot of overcrowding in London, quite a lot in most areas, and just a few tiny bits like Coleraine or West Highlands where migrants are a help.

Extra crowding, I believe, can only add to fiscal costs, even without thinking of data.
If taxes have to pay for roads, for example, then they might as well pay for rails, and so there is a fiscal cost to peoples' long commutes to London. There is the fiscal cost of running transport very near to full capacity, with the extra traffic monitoring work that has to be done, and the cost to travelers of the congestion charge. There are fiscal costs of a less efficient workforce, more stressed and tired because of long commutes.
The fiscal costs of housing rise with over-crowding too I think. There is the fiscal cost of housing benefit has to rise with rent. Emergency housing schemes like council homeless persons units have to make extra use of hostels and B&Bs to house homeless people because more suitable space is not available, and increased rough-sleeping because people who are willing and able to use a room or a hostel space on housing benefit are not able to find one.

The fiscal costs of running public services have to be higher in a crowded area. The market price for a care assistant from an agency is likely to be higher in London. People on formal public sector pay scales are likely to be on London Weighting or Inner London Weighting.

Transport specifically: stating the obvious

GLA economics publishes an estimate of the numbers of people who commute between regions, mainly in-bound, mainly long-distance, mainly to London. It is a big estimate.

GLA also publishes numbers of London international students.

Both figures have the same number of noughts after them; they are the same order of magnitude. So if there were no international students in London next year, and no home students filled their places, there would be a lot less commuting.

Housing specifically: stating the obvious

a general point based on easily-available data from, which maps UK housing costs.

One bed flats in Camden range from £1,457 to £1,625 mid-market to £1,842 for more expensive Westminster and Kensington are slightly more expensive. Generally, the cluster of institutions that attract overseas students have their central buildings in Camden and central London.

The example I looked at - Footwear design at London College of Fashion - has a library and teaching space above British Home Stores in Oxford Street, and uses a former school at Golden Lane in Islington. One of their halls of residence - Cordwainers Court in Shoreditch.- sounds as though it is one of the fixed assets sponsored by past generations to help UK shoemakers study.

 "Standard rooms (shared bathroom) are £154 per week for 42-week tenancies, (£6,468 in total) and £150 per week for 50-week tenancies (£7,500). These rooms are approximately 12 m2"

I don't think economists need to add-up all the rent paid by students and declare it a good thing, arguing that it trickles-around the rest of the economy.

A general point about crowding-out by study as well as tourism and arts

I think that the opportunity cost of this space being used in such an overcrowded part of London is that other rental is crowded-out, just as tourist hotels crowd-out other people from London, or the Royal Opera crowds-out people from London with the bad effects of homelessness, high housing costs, long commutes, and a reduction in variety of London services which is hard to explain economically, but seems associated with high rents. I don't think this would matter if the students
⦁ enjoyed their courses,
⦁ got value for money by being stretched, stimulated, interested, career qualified etc
⦁ benefit the rest of us as much as anyone else who might end-up in central London.
The evidence I can see points the other way on each point.

The London College of Fashion charge for overseas students is £17,500 a year, which is a lot for a course that doesn't teach you to run a shoe factory, learned alongside UK students paying £9,000.

In contrast, there are two shortage occupations on the home office list - "2126 ... product development engineer, product design engineer" which are in demand as well as "2219.... prosthetist". These similar skills are clearly not much taught at London College of Fashion, or hard to practice after graduating with the skills taught, or they would not be shortage occupations.

What impacts have migrant students had on changes to tourism and numbers of visitors to the UK?

Crowding needs a mention under every heading.

There is no room on the Piccadilly Line for more tourists at rush hour.
Most areas of the UK are overcrowded and short of housing, and migrant students study in the most overcrowded areas with the least housing, so if they increase tourism, it might well be in the areas that have too much tourism like London.

Reports including The Value of Fashion by Oxford Economics list extra visitors to London prompted by London Fashion Week. Each extra visitor causes more crowding on the tube.

What role do migrant students play in extending UK soft power and influence abroad?

Long after the close of the call for evidence, I read how nasty and expensive the visa application process has been:

Combine that with the extortionate fees charged to non-EU students, and you are likely to disgruntle some of the applicants. The worst example is applicants who got a place at London Metropolitan University, took part of the course after paying high fees, and were then given 60 days' notice to leave and a "task force", whatever that is. I doubt any of these students crop-up in research about graduates' warm feelings towards the UK because they are not easily tracable via facebook links provided by an alumni office - one of the methods used to research the role migrant students play in extending UK soft power and influence abroad. Nor do any or the people who apply for a visa and don't get one, but think they are over-charged or badly treated. Or people who drop-out.

The question could be re-framed: how can UK government services be fairer and nicer to people abroad? How can our government not offend people for the wrong reasons?

Getting back to Department for Business research, I found the results unclear.

The Department for Business research asks about their interest in "british goods" and "british brands" interchangeably.

Goods made in Britain are good for the economy, helping money circulate and providing a wider range of UK jobs to job applicants who want a wider range of jobs.

British brands may not even be owned in Britain and are unlikely to be made in the UK.

The research found no great take-up of either goods or brands by graduates, but the interchangeable use of both words suggests the problem: international students are not keen on a society in which taxes are earned to pay for public services.

I think there is potential for greater benefits among the fifteen categories listed. If every migrant student had to understand the principal of national insurance and similar schemes, the faults of countries without such schemes, and the difficult of trading between the two kinds of country, then I think more of the worlds' countries would reduce poverty sooner and fewer would compete unfairly with the UK.

There are fifteen categories of soft power listed on one report, without much evidence available for success or failure in any of the fifteen categories, so to avoid rambling I say nothing more.

If migrant students take paid employment while they are studying, what types of work do they do?


What are the broader labour market impacts of students transferring from Tier 4 to Tier 2 [student visa to ex-student visa with rights to apply for skilled work related to the course] including

- on net migration and


- on shortage occupations?

Shortage Occupations:
need for research on why they are unpleasant jobs, and spending on solutions already known

I think each shortage occupation deserves research on why it is such an unpleasant job that not enough people want to do it for long enough, or to train to do it, even when the pay is high and job agencies have the vacancy ready to fill. Not quite an answer to this consultation, but a point worth making. In some cases, like emergency medicine, I think the answer is well-known. A lack of social care, mental health services, and hospital capacity make the job frustrating and stressful. The answer is clearly to spend less on another shortage occupation - classical dancers and choreographers - and more on social care or mental health services.

There is clearly a need for NHS managers to know more about why nursing is an unpleasant job, I am told by a nurse. She says the clinical nurse specialist job is turned into a production-line job with one diagnosis and one small role and no chance to use experience and training. I don't know what more junior nurses on shift work in wards think, but it is worth asking.

I used to do social work social work jobs and found them, the line managers, and the offices a little bit like the ones described in the Victoria Climbie Enquiry.
It strikes me that if there is some way for a course to test whether a social worker is intelligent and honest, that should be the only sort of course to justify a student visa.

I think social work is an unusual job in that the people who most think they can do it are the least good at it. So the current system by which rather desperate marginal universities will give anyone  a chance is not a good system; it gives a false confidence and career advantage to the least able. A bit like the masters degrees in public administration done by more senior social workers who want to run departments.

I knew a social worker on a postgraduate course at Kingston Uni who was shocked by the other people on the course, and thought that they were just interested in the job for the power. Maybe they were the same people who cropped-up a year or two later at the Victoria Climbie Enquiry, with their effect of making the job unattractive to saner applicants.

Suppose there is a country where it is more often hard to judge whether student visa applicants could become social workers with these qualities...
  • polite in UK terms, not giving direct instructions to the client
  • respect the idea of an insurance like service pre-paid by the client through taxes,
  • help where possible instead of just assessing, for example in looking up benefits rules or fitting a stair rail

    and are

  • intelligent,
  • honest,
  • able to look things up with a history of doing it, able to do it at an interview
  • able to think-through messy problems and simplify what if anything can be done.
I wrote "suppose", but if there is a country where student visa applicants are harder to judge, where a college might get an applicant who is just plain barmy, then visas should not be allocated in that country, even if some applicants are perfectly good. Until someone can devise some extra special tests to allow the sensible ones to get a visa.

Ideally, social work employers would know how to select job candidates. That wasn't the case at Harringay Social Services when they hired Carole Baptiste. If the Migration Advisory Committee can find out where Carole Baptiste or other employees of Haringay Social Services got their qualifications, I think that would be a good piece of work and help to prevent bad social work courses from running in future - I write with sympathy for the social worker at the bottom of the management hierachy, on whom everything was first blamed, who got no commitment from any of her bosses to give opinions or help or even run an office or write a sensible job contract.

Whether, and to what extent, migrant students enter the labour market, when they graduate and what types of post-study work do they do?


In addition, the MAC would like to receive evidence about what stakeholders think would happen in the event of there no longer being a demand from migrant students for a UK education.

The economy...

Other exports would have to increase

The effect would be the same as an end to any other export, such as oil or financial services.

The pound would fall until some some other export - something else - became more competitive and made-up, which would quite likely be goods rather than services because easily traded. Import substitution would work the same way. For example, I have just bought a cheap car tyre which was probably from Asia. If the pound falls a lot lower, I might be offered a UK-made re-tread next time.

Government can make exports easier

There is no list of “something else”; there is no directory of UK manufacturers taken from income tax & VAT data. Manufactures are at a disadvantage compared to educators, who's degree courses are all neatly arranged online. Such lists can't be compiled for manufacturers from tax data, because the Revenue and Customs Act restricts use of tax data for other purposes. Government can make exports easier by changing the law and helping directories of UK manufacturers get the most complete possible data. At the moment it's easier to log-on to Alibaba and find a footwear company in China than it is to find one in the UK, which will probably be very lean, keep a low profile, and stick to some niche market.

I think an advantage to manufacturing exports over service exports is that they tend to export from regions that have lower property prices, shorter commutes, no congestion zones, and less crowded public transport. Whether people enjoy manufacturing jobs is another question - it depends on the person and the job - but other advantages are clear.
  • The effect on the local economy of any crowded part of the UK, such as London, would be to reduce crowding.
  • And the effect on remaining students would be increased integration

The effect on students:
UK students might integrate with each other more

English schools are not designed to integrate different types of English pupil. An increasing number are faith schools. A proportion are private, and a higher proportion of university students are privately educated. The private schools have a contingent of pupils from overseas. Anecdotally, the schools that retain a little capacity for boarding find it filled mainly with pupils from Asia. My old boarding school, Wellington College, now has a branch in China. So an ex boarder from Wellington like myself at the age of 18 would know more about wealthier Chinese people than people in the council school down the road. I expect that there is some self-censorship among people at Wellington about human rights abuses in China, the lack of democracy there, and the difficulty of a country with no welfare state trying to trade with a country that has one. That last point might not even be stated, and if I went from Wellington to a college like University of the Arts with its big Chinese student population, the pattern would be repeated. If I went on to become Chancellor of the Exchequer I might sign trade deals and encourage ownership of nuclear power stations and airports that don't seem to be in the interest of the UK.

When I was 19, the differences between people at college were to do with class, region, skills, and different kinds of shared general knowledge. People had done quite well at ignoring religion in order to make it go away. Now, there is increasing segregation on religious grounds that also happen to be racial but also show in the wearing of veils, the avoidance of alcohol, and I suspect sexism, homophobia and mis-treatment of animals. there's also a resurgence in Catholic faith schools. I hope that students at UK universities find-out more about segregated groups just as previous generations found out about people from different classes, and I guess this is more likely if there are more people from the UK in each university.

Future MPs might learn a little more about people in the UK

I am constantly surprised by the way MPs seem to know very little about the country where they stand for parliament, assuming that local people are mainly interested in the issues around them (Susan Kramer MP at a public meeting), or that they prefer points to be expressed as emotions rather than arguments (David Lammy MP on Genfell), or that ordinary people cannot understand economic arguments. As a result, populists are left to make the popular arguments. If UK school children and students were better integrated, I think that would help the ones who become MPs be better MPs.

An example is TTIP free trade agreement that Hilary Clinton was in favour of, as was Cameron, without thinking it worth debating or important. The presumption was that ordinary people don't need to be told what graduates and post-graduates have worked-out for them. A big indicator of voting for Trump was being a non-graduate. A big election issue was that he's interested in industry, and spots any unfairness of trade with China.

An example is Brexit. A big indicator of voting Brexit was being a non-graduate. Graduate MPs seemed to have trouble catching-up with the issues of migration between very different countries, and of the cost of belonging to the EU organisation. So populists made the arguments instead.

An example is Ethical Fashion Forum, Creative Connexions, Making it Ethically in China, and the cluster of related activity. The cluster was funded in secret, with Ethical Fashion Forum miraculously getting a chance to exhibit at The Crafts Council and the V&A with help from the British Council as well as getting funded by Business Link to give lectures on how to run a business. Officials met in ministries and worked-out with Futerra Communications how to set-up something that looked like "social proof", as Futerra put it, rather than a project by Hilary Benn MP at the Department for International Development and then Defra. The presumption, again, is that non-graduates wouldn't understand the need to close UK manufacturing.

(Something similar is likely to happen again: Nike have a "nothing like a Londoner" ad campaign, which suggests that their sponsored department at London College of Fashion has cooked something up with the Greater London Authority.)

I think that if future MPs mixed more with other UK students at university, they might be less surprised and surprising.

Effect on London and crowded areas: increased diversity

"International students bring many benefits to the UK, which have been well articulated in recent years: they bring diversity to campus life and enhance the student experience for ‘home’ students" - Oxford Economics for Universities UK (2014) International Students and Higher Education

I don't know where to find evidence for increased uniformity in expensive, gentrified areas like London. A reduction in music clubs, gay bars, odd ethnic restaurants, and independent businesses. A reduction in things that people can only do if they pay low rent. A tendency of councils and development agencies to try and gentrify deliberately in underhand ways. I think the evidence for this is often anecdotal; I don't know where to look for something quantitative.

If a lot of London colleges closed, I am sure that would slow the increase in London living costs and I hope that would be good for diversity.

impact of migrant students depending on the institution and/or subject being studied –

do different subjects and different institutions generate different impacts?

Suppose there were no more non-EU international students next year.

I think that would be a relief in overcrowded cities like London, but a worry to institutions with most non-EU students like the LSE, London College of Fashion, and their lobbyists.

There would be an immediate drop in income from non-EU students' higher fees, forcing a reduction in back-office and facilities spending on things like lobbying politicians, applying for research grants less likely to be received, paying lawyers to fend-off complainants, vice chancellors' salaries, as well as more obvious facilities. The institutions claiming to be most impoverished would find a lot of money for lobbying: meetings, marches, letters to The Times, speeches in Parliament, but real people wouldn't notice any difference. Colleges that take a lot of home students have, a lot of them, already shrunk a lot since trying to charge £9,000+ fees, so the process is nothing new.

There would be immediate cuts in provision of courses which are not much applied-for by UK students, like business studies in central London, and most of the courses would not be missed. Other courses would have to compete for less qualified and more picky home students, for example by responding to student feedback to get better Unistats results. Only 37% of LSE economics students think the college takes any notice of student feedback at the moment. London College of  Fashion doesn't offer any workshop space to use by the hour or cheap practical training for selling shoes.

I think that courses in expensive areas which get bad student feedback would close more than ones in cheaper areas with good student feedback, so the likes of Coventry University would continue to grow while LSE might shrink. Home students wanting to study in central London would have more choice because of lower entry requirements. At the moment, you have to study rather intensely as a teenager to get the A-level results for a place at LSE, and it would be good if that changed.

Benefits to Londoners of less competition for central government grants

A report on the London Development Agency began by saying how many billions of pounds it had spent over several years, but that worklessness remained a problem in London. The same can be said of education funding. The cuckoo organisations claim large amounts of money from one arm of government or another - such as the Higher Education Funding Council - but there is no adult education course to help londoners sell their stuff on a Wordpress site with options to try Magento Prestashop or Drupal. There is huge expenditure by the Greater London Authority and the Department for Business on London Fashion Week, but few courses for Londoners who want to learn how to set-up a clothes factory or a shoe factory, and, if they did, some of the factory space was knocked down for the Olympics. It would be good if a new generation of fashion and footwear colleges worked by supplying factory space and training any users who wanted to be trained.

If the large lobbying cuckoo-like organisations had less money to bid for more grants and to lobby, I think there might be more money for other things. 

Some examples could be headed
"closing this course would increase happiness all-round and raise more tax at the same time".

This expands on examples made above under other questions, headed "quality"
How do migrant students affect the educational opportunities available to UK students?
To what extent does the demand from migrant students for UK education dictate the supply of that education provision and the impact of this on UK students?
I answered with example paragraphs about Leeds College of Health trading as Leeds University, Manchester University Economics Degree, and London College of Fashion, which comes-up under several headings.

Fiscal cost of damage done by badly educated scholars: a strange example

One graduate obtained funding from the Department for International Development, that also co-operated very closely with London College of Fashion so that it was difficult to see where her project, called Ethical Fashion Forum, began and where London College of Fashion ended.

The graduate claimed to be a dress importer with a business called "Juste", and author of a book called "Can Fashion be Fair?", as well as an award winning architect. On a closer look, it turns-out that "Juste" was a college project that never traded, run as evidence to be awarded a taught masters degree in international development by Oxford Brooks University, close to Oxfam's offices, often studied by ex-Oxfam volunteers. I don't know why Brooks Uni awarded a masters degree for a fake dress import business, to someone without a first degree in architecture or anything else, but imagine it was to please a funder; I imagine that international development students are funded by something like Chevening scholarships. So the idea of British "soft power" meant a particular sort of British interest represented by a stooge.

Certainly the student who went-on to found Ethical Fashion Forum as a kind of front for UK government interests, as did EU-funded online course materials by London College of Fashion, which quoted her as a "case study", alongside Pants to Poverty, who shared a public-subsidised office at Rich Mix on Shoreditch.

I said you don't have to think critically to get the grant. If you don't believe me, I'll send you some qutoes from the masters degree thesis at Oxford Brooks. She claims that people in the UK made their own clothes until international trade allowed them to enjoy fashion. She mixes-up the East India Company with the British Empire, but not with Nike. She backs-up her opinion with a quote that looks fake, on a web site that looks as though it never existed, from an academic who generally states different views. One thing that's clear in her opinions is that she is opposed to UK garment production and she repeats the point on her Ethical Fashion Forum site, using a series of rhetorical tricks.

This particular student has cost millions of pounds in lost revenue from the companies that she has helped close in the UK, by diverting attention from UK manufacturers.

For example, while Pants to Poverty, who shared her office, promoted themselves as "ethical", Manchester Hosiery that made T shirts and underwear in the UK went bust, was bought out of receivership, and went bust again due to lack of interest from customers. It made T shirts and underwear on high-tec machines that wove them to shape from yarn and could produce more cheaply than T shirts with more sewn seams in them.

The same Ethical Fashion Forum team promoted a seminar of about 50 clothes buyers headed "buying from co-operatives". They didn't mention UK co-operatives.Within a month or two, Equity Shoes of Leicester had gone bust and was closed by the receiver because of lack of interest in UK-made shoes. Equity Shoes was a 100 year-old worker co-operative in a high unemployment area.

And then there was the seminar "Making it Ethically in China", funded by the taxpayer through the higher education funding council, that promoted Chinese production with speakers including a fur-dress importer, a Nike consultant and Terra Plana. It was held within a mile of JJ Blackledge, a cheap British PVC wallet manufacturer, that went bust the same week. Just a few orders might have encouraged them to keep going.

I do not know how to estimate loss to the UK economy caused by this covert operation of Dfid, British Council, and scholarships for students who agree with them. I understand that when companies call in receivers, there is usually a statement of reasons why the company failed. A study of these reports, and interviews with former directors, might show that a little encouragement, by universities and government, of firms that pay UK taxes and reasons to buy from them, would go a long way in keeping more of them open and make a positive difference to tax revenue while reducing the costs of benefits and services to stressed people or deprived people.

To save you clicking on the link, I add the email which I got inviting me, as someone in the footwear trade, to the event.

Own-it Event:
Making it ethically in China -
A practical guide for fashion and textile designers

Sourcing materials or manufacturing in China should be considered seriously if you want to compete in a global market and keep production cost low. Many do not think that China should be your first port of call if you have decided to build your brand on a sustainable business model in which worker's rights are recognised, the materials used are environmentally friendly and your carbon footprint is as small as possible. However, China has started to acknowledge the need for sustainable business practices in the production of textiles and clothing, and has set up the Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium in Hong Kong in 2008 to promote just that.
Own-it, Ethical Fashion Forum and Creative Connexions have invited a panel of experts to discuss the current situation in China, how designers can source manufacturers and material that meets their ethical standards and how they can monitor compliance. A lawyer will speak about important clauses in manufacturing or licensing contracts concerning IP rights and confidentiality, as well as what to do when you are faced with counterfeits that are cheap, unethically sourced and damage your good name.
 Date: 28.10.09 Time: 6-8pm followed by drinks and networking until 9pm
 Location: Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP
Cost: Free (paid for by taxpayers and paid for again by loss of tax after UK factories close as a result of this)

Fiscal cost of colleges which actively damage the UK economy, sustained by fees from international students and UK Higher Education Funding Council grants.

The international student industry has a cuckoo-like ability to claim grants from UK taxpayers which I think should mainly be meant for the UK population.

My example is London College of Fashion, working with School of Oriental and African Studies, and Kings College, both parts of University of London. It adds a couple of its own off-shoots to the list as well: Centre for Fashion Enterprise and London Business School. It is hard to know the boundaries of this cluster of institutions.

It won a bid for 80% of the Higher Education Innovation Fund promoted help by universities to business until 2005, when it was used for a different purpose, which was to put UK-based designers or anyone from the UK in touch with Chinese manufacturers.

 "The Creative Connexions project (originally called "Creative Capital-World City") received £5 million of funding from HEFCE via the third round of the Higher Education Innovation Fund bidding process ("HEIF 3"). This funding was allocated to the University of Arts in London which was the lead higher education in the project bid. This represented just under 80% of the total project budget which was £6.275 million. "

I think the covert use of this tax money is so opposite to the overt, and so opposite to the interests of UK taxpayers, that I think something special should be done.

⦁ The institutions should not be awarded any specialised grants for higher education for the life of this government and a suggested fifteen years total; they should receive only the standard higher education funding per head that any other college gets.
⦁ The names of officials & ministers who signed for the payments should be published, and similar funding bids and grants likewise.
⦁ The process should be published, step-by-step, date-by-date, that led to the grant.

Another example is the cost of promoting UK colleges overseas by civil servants at the Department for Business and the British Council, which I don't think benefits UK students or taxpayers. When these colleges are in over-crowded parts of the UK, I think the spending is directly opposite to the interests of UK taxpayers. It is as bad as spending on the Olympics, and it is more like corruption than proper government spending.
A third example is a pretend fashion industry, centered on London Fashion Week and a couple of feed-in fashion shows, which is good at getting column inches but not so good at promoting UK manufacturers. It is as much to do with manufacturing and UK jobs as a Eurovision song is to do with music you would want to hear or play. I believe that London Fashion Week exists in competition with UK manufacturers, particularly for column inches of media coverage.

Footwear, London College of Fashion, part of University of the Arts

I was a stake-holder in the UK footwear industry, selling dozens of pairs every day or two with a commitment to promote UK manufacturing. Unfortunately, bad health got in the way. I suffered very slight encephelopathy or bad concentration after an accident. You can probably tell by my rambling style of writing. But I keep the old web site running and keep in touch with events. I blog as and on as well as on my own website,

When I became ill, I looked on the net for business support of adult education that might help me. For example my short term memory got too bad for me to learn how to set-up an online shopping cart to sell shoes. I could probably do it with subsidised help, or as part of a class where other people did it together, but no such class exists. I expected to see classes run by London colleges with titles like
  • "automate your book-keeping without an accountant", or
  • "manufacturing course suits this workshop space available by the hour"
  • "sell with Prestashop, Magento,Wordpress, or Drupal".
  • "product photography for ebay and small ecommerce businesses",

  • "make shoes or clothes without workshop space"

  • "how to make trials and top-ups of clothing and get a factory to do larger orders"

  • "try your clothes in a market for four weeks and see if they sell: share a stall"  

I don't care who teaches the course if they're competent and I can afford them. but London College of Fashion trains a lot of footwear and fashion graduates, and they need these services just like anyone else. London College of Fashion runs some footwear courses, but no knowledge transfer partnership system works to help small businesses in London. The Knowledge Transfer Partnership person at London College of Fashion has no background in fashion or footwear, and uses the job to promote a course. I did find a cluster of taxpayer-funded activity centred around London Fashion Week, London College of Fashion, and Ethical Fashion Forum. A cluster of overlapping organisations and groups of people claiming various government grants in order to promote Chinese or Bangladeshi or Kenyan goods at the expense of goods made in the UK. I found that a significant grant from Greater London Authority went to London Fashion Week, which is a PR organisation that fashion colleges try to infiltrate for their graduates but has as much to do with making clothes as Eurovision has to do with making music. I believe that if London College of Fashion closed, the world would be a happier place. Something else would supply the informed demand for good courses - probably the universities of Leicester and Northampton for footwear degrees. Kingston has a better-reviewed course for design. I believe that the network of grant-claimants, claiming European Social Fund grants or working with the Department for International Development or the British Council or the Cabinet Office or the Higher Education Funding Council or the Greater London Authority would stop applying. That would leave the grants now paid towards London Fashion Week, for example, to cease. Maybe a replacement would spring-up in the midlands, representing the works of UK factories rather than graduates of fashion colleges and a few other applicants who do not state where their products are made. Either way, there would more more column-inches and air-time for people who make things in the UK and argue the case for goods made in a democratic welfare state. I think this would be great for the economy and particularly for non-graduates who want to do manufacturing jobs. I believe that the covert operations of this lobby would be discouraged, or at least have to be privately funded. Operations like the online course materials from London College of Fashion with their completely false "case studies" of businesses which had never existed, like Juste, a fictional dress import business run by someone who became a front for another bogus organisation, Ethical Fashion Forum (the industry voice for ethical fashion) which had little to do with fashion businesses, ethical or not, and promoted free trade with Bangladesh.

Example of Manchester University Economics Degree.

I think this course would probably close, as it should, and UK students would find other universities willing to provide better courses. I quote a student report on year one, as taught about 2013, on this page, to illustrate that it puts theory first and doesn't mention public administration.

Example of Cardiff University Economics Degree

This is what their professor wrote about free trade deals with countries that have no welfare state and so lower costs: "Over time... it seems likely that we would mostly eliminate manufacturing, leaving mainly industries such as design, marketing and hi-tech. But this shouldn’t scare us." I would like - unistats marks it down I would like to repeat the quote back to him, but with "bad economics courses" instead of "manufacturing". Here are some stats about the Cardiff economics degree. 3,285 international undergraduates (7,110 including international post-graduates) 73/83 on the Complete Uni Guide league table for student feedback, with students 46%   stimulated by the syllabus, 69%      interested by teaching 52%      applied what they had learned. Other universities have shrunk considerably in the past few years, so a good course in a shrunken university will have plenty of space in lecture theatres and halls of residence and teaching rooms. I think that they have more chance of changing, if it brings-in students. They have a history of running more unusual subjects. There are also universities taking-over at the top of league tables for student feedback for economics - Coventry, East Anglia and DeMontfort - which could expand. The important point is that students need to know more about the course and think less about the institution as they apply, so that students who would have gone to Manchester don't go to another bad course instead. I think better economics courses would produce better voters, civil servants, politicians, and people in business. For example, past economics courses have not prepared us for the funding of the NHS over the next decades as the population gets older. The systems have not been set-up. I think this is because of bad economics teaching in the past, in colleges full of ex-pats and ex-private school pupils, staffed by people who use a US style syllabus with its silence about public administration., presenting data from a spreadsheet called Table 3 here

University of the Arts with its London College of Fashion courses

is a big recruiter of international students. I have a run-down footwear business in London and keep track of what they do. They teach a footwear degree. They also have a long-running problem with their associates promoting a different sort of footwear or fashion to the sort that I have produced in the UK. My sales points are that the footwear contains no animal products and is made in a democratic welfare state with a good human rights record. Their sales points - if I take Terra Plana for example - are that the brand's intellectual property was borne in the UK, wherever it is held now. I think the brand is defunct after a web site quote saying that "China is arguably more democratic than the UK", and stating that footwear production is only possible nowadays in China. I sauntered into their shop once, and asked, after a while, why the brand was promoted as "ethical". The assistant said I should look at the web site. But this is a brand promoted by UK taxpayers at the expense of companies that have had to close like Manchester Hosiery, Equity Shoes, Remploy Uniforms and others. Similar companies put great emphasis on whether their shoes can be put in a compost bin and promote this as the only ethical test available. I don't know if Terra Plana shoes can go in a compost bin. I say "they" because I have no detail about who in what ministry asked for Terra Plana goods to be displayed at the V&A, the Crafts Council, and British Council exhibitions, or why David Cameron wore a pair; I am up against something organised, but I don't often know who organises it and how much the organisation overlaps with London College of Fashion. They are my rivals in a way, trying to persuade the public to buy fast-changing designs made in China. Some international students come from countries which offer free or cheap education to people from the UK. I know so little about this subject, that it is best to pretend nothing. Obviously, the deal that a UK student gets when studying in another country is relevant to the deal a student from that country should get when studying in the UK, and if that country offers free education to people like me, I think my taxes should offer students from there similar deal, or at least a cuddly toy or a "thank you" note, if they come over and pay high fees for a bad course in an expensive town, even if they do increase over-crowding,

Agglomoration. Words like "crowd" or "full", "expensive", "long commute" are replaced by "agglomoration" by the Mayor of London, after speaking to lobby groups and GLA econonomics.

There is clearly some kind of hotline between London College of Fashion and various mayors of London of different political parties, including this most recent one Sadiq Khan. I keep coming back to this lobbyist hotline, but there seems to be a whole switchboard of them. "The Mayor’s Brexit Advisory Group provides regular high-quality advice on the priorities for different sectors and organisations. In July this year, the Mayor hosted a summit of London business and university representatives, public service providers and migration experts to discuss what a future approach to migration should deliver". I think maybe he should ask someone on the bus instead of asking lobby groups. The next paragraph sounds like Alan Partridge as well. London’s higher education institutions are world-leading and a huge benefit not just to the London economy. They are a ready supply of top talent, and responsible for innovations that benefit business, science, health, and living standards in the widest sense. However, the inclusion of international students in the annual migration target has been a costly mistake - it has affected the reputation of our higher education sector and the UK as a welcoming place. This comes at a time of increased global competition for international students, talented academics and researchers. It is clear that the Government should reverse this mistake as a matter of urgency. There is a sentence about how wonderful the worst-reviewed UK courses are - apparently they are among the best in the world. And then finally there is a statement about the word "full"; how can more people make a full place better? One answer is to cross-out "full" and write "agglomeration". The capital’s success is based on its openness – to people, trade and ideas. London has responded to globalisation and made use of its competitive advantage in a number of specialisms. It is the world’s leading city for business and culture and is a major asset for the whole of the UK. London’s agglomeration enables innovation, market opportunities and business growth at a rate that many cities cannot match. However, London’s international competitiveness cannot be taken for granted.  [...] The UK’s future approach to migration will be a key determinant in whether London remains at the top, or loses investment to New York, Singapore and Paris. So "agglomeration" is that thing that you see on the Picadilly Line at rush-hour: loads of happy talented people encouraging each other to do more together than they could do apart, more than the people they crowd-out, and more than if they were not in a crowd. I haven't seen it myself.

Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith answered questions from Vogue for the mayorial elections. I had sent a statement to Khan about London Fashion Week as he started his campaign, but he didn't reply.

Vogue Q5. 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. ZG: In the next few years, the mayor of London will get control of further-education funding in London. I want to channel funding into London's growth industries, and fashion is definitely high up the list. Kingston College, in my current patch as an MP, is one of the most successful fashion schools in the world. I want to export that across London. Vogue Q9. London Fashion Week, London Fashion Weekend, and London Collections: Mens are major attractions throughout the year - do you plan on working with the BFC on these events and if so, how? SK: Absolutely! I really enjoyed David Koma's show at London Fashion Week this year. I know what an important part of London's calendar it is. It's really broken through in the last decade and our designers have been recognised internationally, from big brands like Burberry, Paul Smith and Alexander McQueen, to smaller ones like Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou. I will work hand-in-hand with the British Fashion Council to make London Fashion Week even bigger and better. I'll also use the role of mayor to sell London abroad, travelling to new and expanding markets to promote the city's crown jewels including the fashion industry. ZG: Absolutely - these are flagship events for London, a chance to show off our city and its brilliant designers to the rest of the world. As mayor, I will protect the financial contribution that City Hall makes to these events, and I will be enthusiastically promoting them - in government and across the globe. This response to the Migration Advisory Committee is from John Robertson 2 Avenue Gardens London SW14 8BP 0208 286 9947 shop  [at] veganline com ( archives the page with table of economics courses ; archives this page at about the time of the 26th January call for evidence and they got a word-processor version of this page by the deadline)

Footnote about how London College of Fashion works closely with government "The case studies are based on the information provided by the companies and have not been verified of investigated"
"The case studies are based on the information provided by the companies and have not been verified of investigated" That's an odd thing to read in a college textbook. Like "we made this up to get a grant",  and it was written by a consultant on UK taxpayer funding. She mentions it on her CV and blog The screenshot is one of London College of Fashion's publications listing fictional "case studies" of fashion companies, to be promoted by government departments at the expense of real UK fashion manufacturers in getting PR, recognition as ethical brands, or orders. A typical list would be Ethical Fashion Forum, Sari Dress Project, Juste, and Pants to Poverty, dropping Terra Plana, from the list after bad publicity about their Hong Kong supplier. This particular publication mentions Juste and Ethical Fashion Forum. I don't know if the Bangladeshi firms are fictional. The example of Juste is another college project that never traded, done by someone from Zimbabwe studying at Oxford Brooks, and probably on a Chevening Scholarship. The example of Sari Dress Project seems to be another college project, possibly sponsored by the Sri Lanka government at the time. A graphic design student got her name on the web site as author, but officially it is by staff of London College of Fashion. Pants to Poverty was real, but only in the sense that the Ethiopian girl band sponsored by Dfid is real; it never made pants or profit and it helped put UK manufacturers out of business. Development Partnerships in Higher Education must have been real because it cost taxpayer £15 million. The example is about ten years old but the pattern continues, with plans for the college to help develop parts of East London appearing in the Mayor's proposed budget for the next few years.