Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Only half of UK universities ready for no-deal Brexit – study

Universities UK says 80% of members very concerned, with some considering stockpiling

Four out of five British universities are worried about the impact of crashing out of the EU without a deal, as vice-chancellors look to stockpile essential supplies ranging from chemicals to toilet paper.

A survey of members by Universities UK, which represents more than 130 higher education institutions, found that 80% of those responding said they were either “very” or “extremely” concerned about the impact no-deal Brexit will have.

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Boris Johnson ‘cautiously optimistic’ of Brexit deal

LONDON — The British prime minister claimed Friday that he has made “a good deal of progress” in his pursuit of a Brexit deal with the EU.

Speaking in Rotherham, south Yorkshire — after a speech that was interrupted by a heckler demanding to know why he was not with MPs in Westminster sorting out the Brexit “mess” — Boris Johnson said he felt “cautiously optimistic” over the prospects of getting a deal.

“We are working incredibly hard to get a deal. There is the rough shape of the deal to be done,” he said. “As some of you may have seen, I myself have been to talk to various other EU leaders particularly in Germany, in France and in Ireland, where we made a good deal of progress.”

His remarks come a day after the U.K. presented a long-awaited plan to EU negotiators on how to replace the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, but diplomats briefed on the Brexit talks say the proposals fall short of the reassurance that Dublin and Brussels need.

Johnson is set to travel to Luxembourg on Monday for Brexit talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Afterwards, he will meet with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel.

“We will talk about the ideas that we’ve been working on and we will see where we get,” Johnson said.

Minutes earlier Johnson was heckled over his decision to prorogue parliament as he delivered a speech on giving extra powers to local leaders in the North of England.

The heckler, who was removed by security guards, shouted: “Like our MPs? Maybe get back to Parliament. Yeah? Why are you not with them in Parliament sorting out the mess that you have created? Why don’t you sort it out, Boris?”

Johnson replied he was “very happy to get back to parliament very soon,” adding that “what we want to see in this region is towns and communities able to represent that gentlemen and sort out his needs.”

He insisted that there would be “ample time” for parliament to consider the Brexit deal he hopes to strike with the EU in the coming weeks, and accused opposition parties of trying to frustrate Brexit. “The gentleman who left prematurely — not necessarily under his own steam — that is the answer to his question,” said Johnson.

With his speech, the prime minister sought to focus voters’ attention on his domestic agenda, pledging to spend more public money on education and improving rail connections in the North of England.

“I’m certainly not going to be deterred by anybody from our goal of coming out of the EU on October 31, which I believe many people want us to do … But also I won’t be deterred from getting on with our domestic agenda,” Johnson said.

Earlier in the morning, Johnson visited Doncaster, where he was challenged by a woman who accused him of telling a “fairy tale” by promising more public spending after Brexit.

“People have died because of austerity,” she said. “And then you’ve got the cheek to come here and tell us austerity is over and it’s all good now, we’re going to leave the EU and everything is going to be great. It’s just a fairy tale,” she said.

Student visa rethink aims to please both business and Brexiters

Economic considerations appear to have won out over desire to slash migration

On the roadmap to post-Brexit Britain, Boris Johnson offering overseas students more time to find a job in the country after they graduate attempts to hit on a compromise: between the demands of business to attract workers and the demands of many Brexit voters for migration to fall.

Economic considerations appear to have won out.

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How the Australian migration model actually works

SYDNEY — The U.K. is looking to Australia for inspiration in dealing with post-Brexit immigration, with Britain’s Home Office announcing it has commissioned a review of the Aussie system.

Boris Johnson, a long-time admirer of the Australian model, made it a centerpiece of his first speech to the House of Commons after replacing Theresa May as prime minister.

“For years, politicians have promised the public an Australian-style points-based system,” Johnson said. “I will actually deliver on those promises.”

But here’s something British politicians don’t talk about: The Australian system was never designed to cut migration or to stop migrants taking Australian jobs, as Johnson has hinted it would do for the U.K. — just the opposite.

The Migration Advisory Committee’s report on the Australian model isn’t due until January 2020. But who wants to wait that long? Here’s POLITICO’s guide.

the points-based program so beloved by some British politicians is only one aspect of the Australian system — and it’s a drop in the ocean.

Earning points

The current iteration of Australia’s points-based system was rolled out in the mid-1990s to boost the country’s intellectual resources and fill gaps in the labor force.

Under this system, authorities assign points to would-be migrants for desirable characteristics such as youth, level of education, English and foreign language skills and work experience. A pre-determined number of people whose occupations are on a most-wanted list and who score the highest number of points are then invited to apply for a visa, without needing to have a job offer lined up.

People aged between 25 and 33, with “superior” English-language skills, at least eight years of skilled work experience (preferably in Australia), with a high level of education or a trade, who have studied in Australia and speak a foreign language, score most highly on the points test.

Some of the skilled occupations currently on Australia’s list are surgeons, economists, accountants, actuaries, certain types of engineers and scientists, computer programmers, architects and barristers, and also bricklayers, boat-builders, automotive electricians, panelbeaters, plumbers, diesel motor mechanics, carpenters, tennis coaches, electricians and chefs. These desirable jobs change depending on the labor market — for example, choreographers, geophysicists, footballers and multimedia specialists were added to the list this year, while dentists, anesthetists and watch and clockmakers and repairers were removed.

Bricklayers are just one of the occupations on Australia’s list | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

But the points-based program so beloved by some British politicians is only one aspect of the Australian system — and it’s a drop in the ocean.

In the 2017-18 financial year, the last year for which statistics are available, Australia, which has a population of about 25 million, granted 68,111 points-based visas. Compare that to the more than 3 million temporary visas granted, not counting those for tourists, including 378,292 for students, 210,456 for those on working holidays and 64,470 temporary skilled visas; plus 1.9 million visas for New Zealanders, who are allowed to visit, work and live in Australia — the country’s own version of free movement.

Just as EU citizens are a key source of labor for the U.K.’s agriculture and health industries, those temporary migrants take Australia’s hardest-to-fill jobs.

“Australia has a major source of unskilled migrants … and that’s New Zealand,” said Peter McDonald, professor of demography at the University of Melbourne. “And a lot of the temporary migrants, the working-holiday makers, also fill up a lot of the casual, unfriendly-hour type jobs in Australia.”

Meanwhile, in some sectors of the economy in the U.K., such as health and agriculture, cutting off the supply of lower-skilled EU migrants could be disastrous. Particularly as the number of EU workers arriving in the U.K. is already at its lowest level in six years, according to the Office for National Statistics — it has halved since its peak before the Brexit referendum.

The Royal College of Nursing has warned that a sudden end to free movement of EU citizens to the U.K. would cause “untold disruption” to the country’s National Health Service.

And then there’s farming.

For Canberra and for the wider Australian population, a high migrant intake is a shortcut to economic growth.

“If you take agriculture, particularly seasonal agriculture, it is heavily, heavily dependent on migrant workers, to the extent that the vast majority of seasonal workers come from EU countries,” said Madeleine Sumption, the director of Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford. Sumption is a member of the U.K. government’s Migration Advisory Committee, which has been commissioned to review the Australian system for the Home Office.

“Especially when you look at soft fruit that are difficult to harvest with machines, production has increased significantly since EU expansion, and that’s essentially because migrant workers are there to do the picking. It is very difficult to argue that you could simply replace that workforce.

“The debate in this country is really about does the U.K. need that level of growth, does it need to be producing that much labor-intensive produce. That’s a different question.”

Migration nation

When it comes to Australia and migration, international attention in recent years has often focused on reports of horrific conditions at the country’s off-shore refugee processing centers. But as hostile as Australia is to refugees who arrive in the country by boat, it is much more welcoming to migrants who come by air.

“While Australia’s management of asylum seekers characterizes us internationally, ultimately Australia has been and is still a migration nation — 60 percent of our population growth comes from migration and has done for some time,” said Carla Wilshire, CEO of the Migration Council Australia, an independent migration think tank. “I would characterize us as having a very generous migration program, both in terms of numbers and pathways.”

There have been many campaigns designed to boost Australian migration over the years | Rand/Express via Getty Images

In fact, almost 30 percent of Australia’s population was born overseas, compared to 14 percent in the U.K.

“It would be wrong for anyone to say that the points system is about keeping our migration numbers small,” George Brandis, Australia’s conservative former attorney general and current envoy to the U.K., told POLITICO’s London Playbook. “Our migration numbers are deliberately large.”

So much so that when Theresa May flirted with an Australian-style model, she ended up dismissing it. “What the British people voted for on 23 June [in the 2016 EU referendum] was to bring some control into the movement of people from the European Union to the U.K. A points-based system does not give you that control,” May said back in 2016.

“It’s generally seen as a liberal model that would increase migration rather than decrease it,” said Sumption.

For Canberra and for the wider Australian population, a high migrant intake is a shortcut to economic growth.

“In Australia, there’s a broad understanding in the community that migration is good for our economy and overwhelmingly most people support running a migration program for our economic interests,” Wilshire said. “In the U.K. the benefits of migration are not recognized by the broader population.”

Universities brace for Brexit protests as students flex muscles

Anti-Brexit rallies mark start of academic year with young people demanding to be heard

Unprecedented levels of student activism are set to erupt this month when angry students, fed up with the turmoil around Brexit, arrive for freshers’ week, student unions say.

This term sees the arrival at university of three whole years’ worth of students – first, second and third years – who were too young to vote in the European referendum in 2016. Latest polling suggests students would be more likely to vote in an election now than at any time in the past 15 years.

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Sajid Javid promises ‘end of austerity’ with one eye on election

LONDON — Boris Johnson finally admitted he wants a general election, and his spending plans really gave the game away.

His chancellor, Sajid Javid, announced a spending round on Wednesday that laid the groundwork for an autumn campaign. Javid declared the “end of austerity” as he revealed that no government department will be cut in 2020-2021, announcing an overall increase in spending of £13.8 billion compared to the current year.

And he dropped a clear hint that the fiscal rules which were imposed to keep the spending taps tightened are set to be changed in the coming months.

As Johnson watched on and heckled the opposition, Javid laid out an unusual single-year spending round, saying he was “clearing the decks” for departments ahead of the October 31 Brexit date.

But the Tories clearly had another thing on their minds: How to fight Labour at the general election Britain is racing toward.

Javid was even told off twice by Commons Speaker John Bercow for “veering into matters … unrelated to the spending round” by attacking Labour.

When he finally moved onto the detail, the chancellor said he was delivering the “fastest increase in day to day spending in 15 years” at 4.1 percent across government offices, plus an extra £2 billion to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

“I can announce today that no department will be cut next year,” he told the Commons. “Every single government department has had its budget for day-to-day spending increased at least in line with inflation. That’s what I mean by the end of austerity. Britain’s hard work paying off.”

The Home Office was handed a 6.7 percent real-terms increase in spending, including £750 million to fund the recruitment of police officers next year.

He announced a 6.2 percent increase for the NHS and an extra £1.5 billion for councils to cope with social care.

And the Department for Education will get £7.1 billion more by 2022-2023 compared with this year, Javid said, with each secondary school getting an extra £5,000 for every pupil.

Javid also announced he would review the “fiscal framework” — a set of rules imposed by former Chancellor George Osborne and updated by his successor Philip Hammond to keep spending tight — ahead of a budget next year.

The rules require the government to balance the books by the mid-2020s and to ensure debt is falling as a share of GDP by the end of the current parliament.

Javid’s spending review keeps within those restrictions, the Treasury insisted, because they are set against national forecasts published in March. But his plan to loosen the rules shows a clear desire to turn the spending taps on soon.

Paul Johnson, the boss of the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, pointed out that thanks to updated growth figures, Javid would probably not be keeping to the rules.

Johnson added that despite the new announcements, spending in most departments will remain well below 2010 levels. And he warned that a no-deal Brexit and economic slowdown would probably mean “another dose of austerity to deal with renewed deficit.”

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told Javid to send a message to top Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings: “Do not insult the intelligence of the British people.”

“The people will see today’s statement as the grubby electioneering stunt that it is. This is not a spending review as we know it. It is straight out of the [election strategist] Lynton Crosby handbook,” McDonnell said, dubbing it “opinion poll politics.”

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