It’s not just May and Green, PM David Cameron would seem to be just as bad – or else he just has poor quality advisors. He claims that the government is “getting a grip on immigration”. Fine, we would all support that, as indeed would most immigrants. But as evidence of this he announces a ban of 474 colleges. Now I know a fair number of those on the list, and they take well-heeled juniors for a few weeks in the summer, and that’s it. They are no more going to take immigrants than fly to the moon, so banning them is like, I don’t know, banning sheep from possessing nuclear warheads. It is a complete irrelevance.
It’s bad enough that politicians do not understand the difference between international students and immigrants, which is a failure of analysis and intelligence that has our competitors in Canada, the USA, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand rubbing their hands with glee. It’s bad enough that they introduce a new half-arsed inspection system to provide “Educational Oversight”, and then come up with exhorbitant fees which have the sector gasping for cash in order to stay on the right side of a regulation the purpose of which they support but the execution of which fills them with dread as well as contempt. But now impeccably decent, respectable, conscientious course providers have to suffer the indignity of being “banned” simply because they have elected not to opt in to this fatheaded scheme and do what they were already doing, working with students who have no need of visas because they can come here anyway. Of course there are dodgy outfits – we’ve all been saying that for years to a deaf and inert administration. But now to produce an inflated list tarring them all with the same brush is an act which is at the cheapest end of politics, an ill-judged response which does the country no credit and which will continue to damage what is arguably Britain’s finest post-war growth industry.
Having just returned from what is surely the biggest international education event in the world, where seminar speaker Will Archer produced hard evidence of changing – and deteriorating - attitudes to Britain as an education destination, I am in no doubt that this government’s stupidity is damaging our standing in the world, damaging our educational institutions, and doing serious damage to the nation’s economy. And for what? We hear that the government has lost track of 124,000 or so asylum seekers and others who have outstayed their visa. As so often happens decent people, decent businesses are being used as cover and as scapegoats for monumental governmental incompetence. Short planks, thickos and losers.
Edit: Today's news is that UKBA haven't been checking passports properly anyway. Such a fiasco.