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by Euro Reporter
2015-07-10 13:55:58
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Britain's universities have been neglected

To bounce back from the blows dealt to the economy in the last decade, George Osborne need to invest in higher education, says Lord Bilimoria. "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." One does not have to be an economist to understand these words, written by the American statesman Benjamin Franklin in 1758. An investment in education lasts longer than any other. Though not the oldest in the world, Britain’s well-established universities have long set the standard for higher education, for the world’s future lawyers, doctors, financiers, business leaders and politicians. One in seven world leaders are educated in the UK, the British Council has found. This makes our higher education sector a tremendous cultural and political force at a time when the greatest superpowers in the twenty-first century continue to be driven by innovation and supercharged by discovery in the laboratory and specialist research hubs. And as other nations charge ahead in economic fields, particularly in productivity, I would urge the Chancellor to consider that public sector expenditure in higher education is far below where it should be.

britain_400Real-term investment in both higher education and R&D has been dropping for decades and now sits well below the United States, as well as the EU and OECD average. Universities are vital to filling our hospitals and factories with skilled, talented staff and supplying the world of business with inquisitive and resourceful minds. The neglect of Britain’s university faculties is starkly reflected in our low productivity rate, which sits around 15 percentage points below pre-crisis predictions for 2015. To bounce back from the blows dealt to the economy in the last decade, our nation needs a sturdy pipeline of skills and talent in every field. If we look to the United States, public expenditure on Higher Education is over twice the size of ours, just in proportion to our GDP. The United States suffered barely a blip in its labour productivity as a result of the financial crisis, but it cannot go unnoticed that it has for decades invested consistently and uncompromisingly in its keenest minds from Berkeley to Boston. Their economy is more balanced and grows continuously, whereas growth and equality still remain points of contention in the United Kingdom. These blights do not befit an advanced economy like ours, and our deficient higher education investment may be culpable. On other fronts too, our universities are more vulnerable than ever. Coupled with the effects of the Home Secretary’s vengeful homilies on the soaring numbers of immigrants entering the country, deterring the brightest prospective students from approaching Britain’s shores, Britain becomes powerless to fill the ranks of its top businesses and manufacturing workforces, despite having no small share of the world’s business giants.

An increasingly unwelcoming policy agenda sees teenagers opting instead to study at new and competitive universities in Canberra and Melbourne, neglecting the UK institutions that have been formative for many of the world’s minds. For example, in five years, Britain has suffered a 50 per cent drop in the number of Indian students studying in Britain, some of whom presumably sense that the international communities in Britain’s universities – who are still wrongfully included in net migration statistics – have a diminished voice. As a university Chancellor myself, this raises concerns for my colleagues and I. Recent estimates from the Department of Business, Industry and Skills place the value of selling British education to those from overseas at £14 billion. And in the business world, many entrepreneurs start young. Some skip university altogether, but those who don’t must build global networks and reputations while they study. In this context, Chancellor George Osborne should consider universities an untapped vehicle for economic growth. The appointment of Jo Johnson as universities and sciences minister offers those in the Higher Education sector hope. Yet a different approach to the universities is needed throughout the Cabinet. The less we stimulate growth in the higher education sector, particularly through public expenditure, the less productive and influential Britain will be. It only remains for the Chancellor to act.

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Budget 'To secure Britain's future'

George Osborne is to sweeten the pill of dramatic welfare curbs with tax cuts as he promises reforms to "secure Britain's future" in his first Tory-only Budget.

The Chancellor will point to the plight of Greece to justify painful changes, warning that the "greatest mistake" would be to "think that all our problems are solved".

He is expected to wield the axe on tax credits and housing benefit, reduce the overall benefits cap and announce that student grants are being scrapped.

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Britain MUST stand up to 'bullying' EU like Greece has, urges senior official

Daniel Hannan said Greece had "voted for independence" at the weekend by rejecting the terms of an international bailout. He added that Britain should be inspired by their refusal to bow down to the EU's "bullying", "lying" and "threatening". A landslide 61 per cent of the Greek electorate voted against austerity, against 39 per cent who voted 'yes'. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is now expected to negotiations over a debt deal with a strengthened hand. Hannan added: "Over the next year, these same Eurocrats will be threatening Britain with penury if we leave the EU." "If little Greece can stand up to the system, so can we." David Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU before the end of 2017.

He is currently attempting to renegotiate Britain's role in the 28-member bloc before campaigning gets underway. But he has struggled win over fellow European leaders, such as French President Francoise Hollande and Polish leader Ewa Kopacz. Kopacz delivered the Prime Minister a "resounding no" over his plans to reform migrant benefits in May. And French foreign minister Laurent Fabius accussed Cameron of trying to "dismantle" the 28-member bloc. Tory MEP Hannan added Mail that Britain can help Greece by making it "our holiday destination" again.

He said: "The country has always been pleasant to visit; but, outside the euro, and effectively half-price, it will be even more attractive." He also slammed Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, for telling the Greek public that "salaries won't be paid, the health system will stop functioning, the power network and public transport will break down" if they voted 'no'. Hannan told the Daily Mail: "Had the campaign lasted another 48 hours, he’d doubtless have thrown in a plague of locusts and the slaughter of the firstborn."

 


       
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