31/05/2012 Dragon's Eye


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Could Welsh universities be damaged by the UK Government's immigration


Good evening. The Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, says


he's "very concerned" that the ability of Welsh universities to


attract international students will be damaged by the UK Government's


immigration policy. Nearly 70 leaders from the university sector,


including many from Wales have written to the Prime Minister


warning that changes to student visas will discourage applicants


and deprive the economy of billions of pounds a year. The UK Government


says genuine students won't be affected. Here's Brian Meechan.


Welsh universities have become increasingly competitive on the


world stage in trying to attract international students and


academics. One in 10 of the student population here at Cardiff


University come from abroad. About a quarter of all those in Wales


study at this institution and this is one of the universities in the


country that is worried by the UK Government's policy. To be a world-


class university, we need to have students from all over the world.


If we lose those students, there is a risk that our reputation will


fall. There is a risk it will damage the local economy. Figures


released last week show that net migration into the UK is running at


about 250,000 people annually. That is more than the 100,000 people


that the UK Government wants. The main reason people come here is to


study. Cardiff University joined Bangor, Aberystwyth and Cardiff


Metropolitan University to raise concerns that the UK Government's


attempt to cut -- cap levels. Chancellors and cheers of


universities boards Express our view -- is clearly to the


government. When the policy of controlling population in and out


of the UK affects our international market, and even in a relatively


small university like Bangor, the overseas student population outside


the European Union is about 1,500 and that is around �40 million for


the er the city. The Education Minister has said he is worried


about the government plans. higher education institutions have


recruited overseas. A lot of them are looking to do it in partnership


with further education colleges. So we are concerned about the


financial impact and the reputation this could have on Wales. Foreign


students -- the UK Government is determined to stop the abuse of the


visa system. One senior Welsh Conservatives has rejected claims


the crackdown on immigration could harm universities. The Government


is saying you should have a high level of English. That is common


sense. When I was on the Home Affairs Select Committee, we looked


into bogus students coming here and I understand people from foreign


countries want to do that. I am not blaming anybody but it is an abuse


of the system which has to be stopped. The government has also


said its policy will not stop genuine students from coming to the


UK but others warned international students could go elsewhere.


Critics argue that the Government's immigration policy risked driving


international students towards our competitors in Australia, Canada


and Germany and the USA. They argue that risk would make universities


in Wales less high profile. reality is, we have a global market


for students. It is destined to grow enormously and other countries


are seeing the advantage of this new market so Australia, which had


an immigration policy similar to the one we're practising, has


decided to go away from it. We seem to want to close the hot. We want


the best and brightest from China to come here and steady but they


can always speak flawless English. What the government is trying to do


is to weed out those who can't even speak English and to claim there


are studying some sort of degree over here. That is just common


sense. Recent visa rule changes have increased restrictions. Some


want the government to go further but others saw one of the damage to


a university's international standing. With the billions of


pounds overseas students bring into the country, it seems ministers


will have to work harder to convince the education sector that


they are striking the right balance. I'm joined now by Bela Arora from


the University of Wales, Newport and Alp Mehmet from Migration Watch.


The Immigration Minister has sought to RIAS -- reassure the university


sector seeing genuine students will still be admitted. Tu accept those


reassurances? Hit only does partly to reassure the higher education


institutions. -- it only. We need to be thinking about what kind of


signal this sense to other countries and to prospective


students. They are the ones who we need to be concerned about. We


pride ourselves on being welcoming as well as offering a high Caliber


of dedication and surely that should be a priority. Is that an


important point? That this is a competitive market and UK


universities need to sell themselves to international


students. I can understand why people are concerned. But I don't


see the government has done anything to dissuade good students


from coming to this country. In fact, the Higher Education survey


today published in the Times suggested that the overall numbers


for 2012 and 2013 had gone up by an average of nine by 5%. Having spent


a lot of my professional career overseas encouraging and selecting


students to come to this country, I see no problem with what is going


on. They are attracted by quality and value for money. Sometimes,


universities and those who run them cry wolf too readily because what


they say in rubbishing our policies gets played back and the image


created is that we're not welcoming and that just isn't true. Bela


Arora, they have been examples of abuses of the system. Those need


addressing. Yes. But we need to remember that that is a minority


and so why do we need blanket restrictions that have far reaching


consequences? I was to take issue with the statistics because even


though they have been increases in some areas, we need to be aware of


the countries and the origins of the students. For example, Chinese


students are not affected by a lot of these debates partly because


they are less cost sensitive and they are more ranking sensitive. A


lot of students who are coming to Welsh Universities come from India


and Nigeria, where there are significant indications and even


during the process of these debates over the past year, we have seen a


decline in the number of students from both areas. What about this


suggestion that the sector came up with this week that students should


be treated as visitors rather than as permanent? They are not visitors.


They are here for all the rear and the international definition of


what constitutes immigration is someone who is here for longer than


one year. This is not something new. It was observed by governments


before this one. The point about the Chinese and the Indians,


there's nothing different that applies to the Chinese that does


not to the Indian perspective students and vice versa. In 2008,


there was a new system and in the first year alone, there was a 30 %


increase in the number of students coming here particularly from


countries like India. The Public Accounts Committee chaired by a


member MP came up with a figure recently that in that first year


alone, something like 50,000 students came here who have no


intention of studying. It is right that we should tighten the rules


and ensure that only the genuine students come here for a very


welcome and always have been. you both for taking part in the


programme. Downing Street says the Prime


Minister will not be referring Jeremy Hunt to his independent


adviser on the ministerial code. The Culture Secretary gave evidence


to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards today and Downing Street


says David Cameron believes Mr Hunt acted properly when he was


assessing News Corporation's bid to take over BSkyB. Earlier in the


week, Lord Leveson gave some insight into his thoughts on


possible reform of press regulation in conversation with Tony Blair.


The other side of the freedom of speech argument was presented with


force by the UK Education Secretary, Michael Gove. Tomos Livingstone


looks at how we got here and where we go next.


It is a sensational attack. The Prime Minister turns the tables on


the tabloids, accusing the attack dogs of acting like feral beasts.


I'm going to turn it says something which few people in public life can


say. A vast aspect of our jobs today, outside of the really major


decisions, as they give anything else, is coping with the media. Its


sheer scale, wait and hyperactivity. At point, it literally overwhelms.


But it sold news. Tony Blair gave that speech five years ago. The


former prime minister was back this week giving evidence to the Leveson


Inquiry. His views on the media have not changed much. But the


political context certainly has. There are a lot of people in


journalism and in the media who, if the framework within which they are


operating is different, it will also give them the freedom to do


their job properly. The so how did we get here, as luck phone hacking


by journalists at the News of the World became public knowledge in


2009. But it was the revelation that phones belonging to the murder


victim, Milly Dowler, that pushed the story on the page 1. I want


everything and I want everyone to be clear. Everything that happened


is going to be investigated. The witnesses will be questioned by H-


reg under oath. No stone will be left unturned. David Cameron


appointed Lord Leveson to look at the ethics of the media. The police


are still investigating two. They that sue police inquiries. They are


looking up from hacking and payments to public officials. As


with all good stories, there's more. News Corporation, the parent


company of the News of the world's, eventually gave up its bid to take


total control of the broadcaster BSkyB. But the takeover needed to


go ahead former Cabinet minister acting in a legal rather than a


little capacity. David Cameron took the job of the Vince Cable after he


suggested he had already made up his mind. The job went instead to


Jeremy Hunt. It has emerged since that he and his team were in close


call -- conversation with News Corporation. You set aside any


views that you have and you decide objectively on the basis of media


plurality and not on the policy considerations that had been my


preoccupation to that point. Lord Justice Leveson has had his work


cut out. At times, he must feel as if he's not just dealing with feral


beasts that Frankenstein's monster. So what will the headline writers


have to say when the report is finally published quite like there


are some hints already. Lord Leveson has said he is considering


a new regulator to advise papers on whether to publish sensational


stories before the presses start to roll. The final decisions on any


new regulations live with the politicians. Some changes are


likely but will they be toast dropping staff? Even politicians


don't want the press turned into a pool. -- Pool.


Joining me now is Ian Hargreaves, professor of journalism at Cardiff


University, the political commentator, Rod Richards, and from


our Swansea studio, Spencer Feeney, the editor of the South Wales


Evening Post. There was a fascinating exchange between Lord


Leveson and Michael Gove earlier in the week us where Michael Gove was


defending freedom of speech and suggesting that some abuses were a


price worth paying up. Lord Leveson challenge his assertions. They


exchange sums up the argument. -- their exchange. He did a bit cross


-- he got a bit cross and said he did not need anybody telling him


that freedom of speech was important. But he has made it clear


that he is looking for a balanced outcome which both get its


independence of a new regulatory system, independence from


politicians and the state, and independence from the people who


own the news media. That is a position that we have never managed


to get to in this country. The other thing I've heard him say over


and over again is that, I am not going to be afoot nut in somebody


else's book. So he recognises that this is the best opportunity that


there has been in the entire history of the news media to do


something different. He knows he can only recommend and I am sure he


is fearful that his work will end I wonder what your take on where


the balance should be struck lies? You have seen it from every angle.


You have been a journalist and politician and the subject of


tabloid attention. I think one of the problems Lord Leveson has his


defining public interest as opposed to what interests the public. One


of the interesting things Ken Clarke said is that much of what


the public are concerned about are already criminal offences, bribery,


hacking. I think the biggest problem that Lord Leveson is going


to have... I accept the argument we must have some sort of regulatory


body. Michael Gove says, leave things as they are. You must have


some form of regulatory body that does not have a politician anywhere


near it and has distanced from editors. Kenneth Clarke had


interesting things to say about journalists who may commit a


criminal offence in the public interest. Already the Director of


Public Prosecutions does not prosecute a journalist for that


offence. Lord Leveson's main problem is going to be with the


pressure that the media can exert on politicians and ministers and


Vince Cable in his evidence said that he had a source who had told


him that News International said that if Vince Cable did not play


the game as far back as they were concerned with the bid, his party


would be done over. That is the kind of threat that Lord Leveson


really has to address. How he does it is another matter. Let us bring


in Spencer Feeney. I know it back in a previous life you work for the


existing regulatory body, the Press Complaints Commission. From that


perspective as well as your perspective as a practising


journalist, what are your thoughts about how you create an effective


regulatory body that at the same time allows enough freedom for the


press to actually do their job of scrutinising be privileged and


powerful? I think the Press Complaints Commission itself, we


should not assume it has utterly failed. I think it failed in


regards to dealing with phone hacking but so did the Metropolitan


Police and so did the Crown Prosecution Service. If we want to


scrap the PCC because of that failure, logically, we should talk


about scrapping the net and the CPS which naturally nobody is. --


scrapping the Met. I think the PCC does a good job in swiftly


resolving complaints from the ordinary reader. Whatever replaces


it should maintain that part of its service. On top of that, however,


there will need to be some form of ombudsmen who has the power and


resources to investigate serious misconduct and I think to impose


tougher penalties than the PCC has been able to. That is an


interesting point. In his conversation with Tony Blair, Lord


Leveson talked about serious financial sections that this


regulatory body would be able to impose -- financial sanctions. Is


that something you would feel comfortable with? I would be very


cautious about serious financial sanctions. But I would not be


cautious about the principle of applying some legal or statutory


leverage around the powers that a revamped regulatory body has. There


is a way of doing that which does not get you into over regulating


the press. I think it is also the case that the press is asking for


an is right to be asking for a stronger public interest defences


to be written into a number of pieces of legislation where it is


currently lacking. The press needs the right legal framework right


across the board and it needs the right kind of regulator, a


regulator that the public have confidence own. The problem with


the PCC is that confidence has been lost. However unfairly, we can


debate, but it has gone. It has to be reconstructed. It is a hell of a


challenge for Lord Leveson. I do not agree with the idea of


financial sanctions. There is a world of difference... It depends


of the means of the offender. The Evening Post is not going to be the


same category of financial sections as the media empire. I think the


sanctions or the remedy has to be some form of punishment or sanction


that has some opprobrium attached to it. In the same way that a


doctor being struck off the register... It is bad enough that


he loses his job but there is opprobrium attached to it. Let me


ask Spencer Feeney your thoughts on the possibility of financial


sanctions. I think Lord Leveson may look at that. My theory is that


inevitably it involves suppliers and that would mean the new system


would be more bureaucratic and certainly more costly than the


system we are looking to replace. Gentlemen, thank you very much.


The Office of Fair Trading says it is planning to refer the car


insurance industry to the Competition Commission. It says the


practice of insurance companies getting referral fees from car-hire


firms and repair garages is inflating premiums. The decision


could have a big impact on Cardiff- based Admiral Insurance, Britain's


second-biggest insurance provider. Referral fees make up a bigger part


of its profits. Earlier I spoke to its chief operating officer. I


asked him for his thoughts on something we talked about in last


week's programme, the creation of an enterprise zone target in the


financial sector in Cardiff. What lessons have they learnt setting up


in the capital? We came to Wales in the early 90s and there were some


things that make a real difference. We wear a brand new company and


could have gone anywhere. The reason we chose South Wales was


transport links to London, partly a number of people in Wales did a


brilliant job of selling Wales to us and partly because it is a nice


place to live. We have to take the whole management team and we all


had to come to South Wales. The fact it is a lovely place to live


is also an important factor. terms of the lessons you could


apply from that experience to the discussions about how best to tempt


other big financial players to a financial sector, a mini Canary


Wharf in Cardiff, what would you say? I would say it is partly about


sales and marketing. The product that is Cardiff is a brilliant


product. There is so much going for it in terms of culture and shopping


and sport. And education facilities and everything that is interesting


for people who have to make a decision about where to live often


for the rest of their lives. The proximity to London and Heathrow.


These are valuable assets. The quality of the workforce. The fact


there are more financial graduates per capita in Cardiff than almost


any city in the UK. You have got to get the story out there to the


people in London who are making choices about where they are going


to locate in future. Culturally, Admiral Insurance is an innovative


business. It has a series of firsts to its name. The first insurance


company to have a website, for example. You also have a profit-


sharing system for staff. You have maintain that as you have grown


into a very big company. How do you do that, get big at while at the


same time maintaining the small- company dynamism? I will start with


another first. We came first in the great places to work for


competition which is great. We are really proud of that. It is


testimony to the efforts of all of the staff. One of the really big


challenges of growing from a start- up in the early Nineties to a


multi- site operation. We have sides in Swansea and Newport now as


well. How do you maintain the small company to be fun, enjoyable and


involving? Fortunately, over the years, we have been able to do that.


We have had to work at making people enjoying what they do and


feel a sense of belonging. Partly it is about sharing the rewards.


All of our staff get a minimum of �3,000 of shares a year. The fact


they are part of the success I think is really important.


there clouds on the horizon for Admiral Insurance given the


announcements today that it is thinking about referring the entire


car insurance market to the Competition Commission because it


says referral fees are artificially boosting premiums for customers?


Admiral Insurance relies more on referral fees than its rivals. Is


your business model under threat? Absolutely not. We welcome the


changes that are going to take place both on car hire which is the


current thing that the OFT had been focused on and on legal referrals.


It is a mad dysfunctional system that inflates the cost. We pay out


a lot more in claims because of this this functionality than we


received in referral fees. If you get the system working properly, at


the end of the day, we are very happy. It is a little bit of a


misconception that we rely on that business more than others. You are


confident that this would not make you more vulnerable than your


rivals? I notice your share price has taken a knock today. Or the


insurer has received this sort of income. -- all of the Insurers. It


is a bit of a misconception. The share price has only moved a little.


Are you able to put a figure on how much of your profits are down to


referral fees at the moment? make about �5 per policy holder per


year on the car referral fees. On the other side of the equation, we


pay more out in inflated car hire costs on our own claims. As I say,


Join Felicity Evans as she takes a fresh look at politics through the Dragon's Eye.

In this edition, Dragon's Eye looks at fears that the UK government's crackdown on immigration could damage Welsh universities. Plus the latest from the Leveson inquiry into media ethics.

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