Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Right-wing Tories want to see fewer British students too

Conservatives who want to see fewer foreign students won't be put off by telling them this could put some universities out of business, because they want to see fewer British students too.

Robert Jenrick has been making the running on the Tory right's agitation against foreign students, and his new sidekick is my own MP, Neil O'Brien.

So let's turn to an article O'Brien wrote for Conservative Home in 2020:
The most recent Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis found that, viewed from the point of view of the student, their degree isn’t worth it for around 10 per cent of women, and a quarter of men. This is extraordinary, given they are receiving big taxpayer subsidies. 
Viewed from the point of view of the taxpayer, the taxpayer makes “a loss on the degrees of around 40 per cent of men and half of women.” Summing together the effect for society as a whole (the gains to students and taxpayers) “total returns will be negative for around 30 per cent of both men and women.”  In other words, nearly a third of students degrees are not worth it economically. 
The variation by degree and institution is even more dramatic. The taxpayer makes huge losses subsidising creative arts courses – only four and a half percent represent a positive investment. 
Only 30 per cent of English students earn enough to justify taxpayers’ investment. The taxpayer makes a loss on the majority of students in sociology, psychology, communications, and languages. Many would be better off doing something else.
And there's more:
For a country like Britain, deep in debt, lofty thoughts are not enough to justify such huge numbers of students doing things that don’t help them economically, given that’s what many themselves want. 
O'Brien goes on to call for more money for technical education. Tories have been doing this for as long as I can remember - it's an excellent idea for other people's children.

So bear this in mind when you hear right-wing Tories shrugging off the threat their ideas pose to British universities: it's an added attraction for them.

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