Immigration forecast: ridge of Right pressure

March 7, 2013

If academic colleagues are wondering why the sector’s extensive lobbying to get overseas students reclassified as non-immigrants is being so strongly resisted by the government, look no further than public attitudes to immigration (“In the BIS corner? Cameron’s Indian signs welcome, but policy unchanged”, News, 21 February).

In our January survey for the National Policy Monitor based here at the University of Essex, we found that 2 per cent of respondents think that immigration into the UK should be increased and 80 per cent think it should be decreased. In addition, 4 per cent believe that the government has handled immigration well and 65 per cent think it has handled it badly.

This is one of the reasons why the UK Independence Party did so well in the Eastleigh by-election with its argument that immigration cannot be controlled as long as the UK remains a member of the European Union.

The sad truth is that there is a moral panic going on over immigration in this country and higher education is the victim of it. No matter what David Cameron says in India about British universities welcoming overseas students, the government is not going to make any concessions on this issue that open it to attacks from the Right any time soon.

Paul Whiteley
Professor of government
University of Essex


John Black (“Still pressing panic button”, Letters, 31 January) is surely right that The Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express create myths about immigration. As I wrote in my book Racism and Education in the UK and the US: Towards a Socialist Alternative (2011): “The Sun both captures and creates working class racism”. The same may be said of the Mail and the Express with respect to middle-class readers. However, Black is wrong about the Daily Mirror: while not socialist in any meaning of the word, it actively backs the anti-racist Hope not hate organisation.

Mike Cole
Emeritus research professor in education and equality
Bishop Grosseteste University

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