We won’t collude with efforts to use the academy to police immigration

Great initiative from my friend David Whyte, Ann Singleton and Steve Tombs. They decry the insidious way in which academics are being used to monitor foreign students and staff (thanks Moa).

We are among the growing number of academics across the UK voicing our concern about being drawn into playing a key role in an ever-tightening system of immigration control. Many of us are now being asked to implement procedures and checks related to immigration status on both our colleagues and our students. The creeping imposition of such practices raises questions about the legal responsibilities and contractual requirements of university and college staff, the methods the UK is using to police immigration, and the compromising of what remains of academic freedom in Britain.

In February 2008, the Government introduced major changes to UK immigration policies and laws, seeking to consolidate a plethora of immigration-control measures. The main plank of these changes was the introduction of a points-based system (PBS) under which potential employers of migrant workers from outside the European Union must be approved and licensed by the Government before workers are granted permits to take up employment. Thus, universities and colleges must now be licensed as “approved education providers” to bring non-EU students into the UK to study. In addition, before they are admitted to the country, these students must hold a visa giving them permission to enter for the purposes of study at the approved institution, and prove that they have enough money to pay their fees and maintain themselves in the UK.

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What is Education?

Thanks to Adrian Barnes of the Rossland Telegraph for sending me this transcription of David Foster Wallace’s address to US college graduates in 2005.

If anybody feels like perspiring, I’d advise you to go ahead, because I’m sure going to. Greetings and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story [“thing”] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

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Cuban Education & Healthcare

The following short documentary is interesting not just for its look at Cuban healthcare and education but also due to its Japanese persepective.

Japan is one of the most equal and wealthy societies with more of a collectivist persepective than Western nations and has a good healthcare system.  However the panelists on the following show believe there’s much to learn from Cuba (one of the worlds poorest countries thanks to a brutal US blockade).

I’ve also included some enlightening interviews with US medical students studying in Cuba.

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Zionism: the Zionist Victims

How could 94% of Israeli Jews have supported the massacre in Gaza? How is it that many Israeli Jews quite genuinely see themselves as the victims, even when the death count is one Israeli to a hundred Palestinians, even when their ethnically-cleansed enemy starves in refugee camps? An incredible statistic: 40 percent of Israeli Jews are unaware that at the end of the 19th century, the Arabs were an absolute majority in Palestine. Having just watched Norman Finkelstein’s thought-provoking lecture on the use of Ghandian tactics to change Israeli Jewish as well as international opinion on Palestine, I find the below article, in which the great Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar throws some light on the indoctrination of Israeli Jews, to be particularly interesting. We have to work to educate Israelis as much as anyone else.

A new study of Jewish Israelis shows that most accept the ‘official version’ of the history of the conflict with the Palestinians. Is it any wonder, then, that the same public also buys the establishment explanation of the operation in Gaza?

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