Britain is soon going to run out of toes

If the British keep shooting themselves in the foot, before long they are going to run out of toes.  Here’s the latest outrage:

“THEY are not, and never have been, immigrants.” So declared Enoch Powell of international students in an infamous speech against migration in 1968. Ending up to the right of Powell, who was as fierce a critic of immigration as they come, is an uncomfortable position. But that is where Theresa May’s government finds itself with respect to overseas students. As part of a plan to reduce the number of migrants, on October 4th Amber Rudd, the home secretary, announced new restrictions on foreign students, including tougher entry requirements for those going to lower-quality institutions. The proposal is merely the most recent attempt to deter foreigners from paying tens of thousands of pounds to study in Britain.

Since the turn of the century the number of foreign students in Britain has more than doubled (see chart). In contrast to Britain’s overall immigration trend, growth has come not from Europe but from the rest of the world. Chinese students are by far the biggest group, numbering 89,540 last year, up from 47,740 in 2004. The steep fees paid by non-EU citizens have made higher education an important British export. By one estimate foreign students contribute £7 billion ($8.6 billion) a year to the economy in fees and living expenses.

.  .  .

Other countries spy an opportunity. Australia and Canada, popular alternatives for Asian students seeking an English-language education, offer (limited) chances to stay and work, making them attractive destinations. Australia has simplified its student visa system to boost its appeal. Germany is offering more courses in English. And since 2014 public universities there have largely abolished tuition fees, including those for foreigners. This month the Irish government revealed plans to encourage more foreign students. “Everybody is doing the exact opposite to us,” laments Ms Owen Lewis. While the number of foreign students in Britain has stalled, in other countries it is zipping up. In Australia it increased by 11% last year.

Nor does the crackdown look politically necessary. A YouGov poll last year found that students were the most popular group of migrants among voters, three-quarters of whom thought their numbers were about right or should be higher. Even supporters of the right-populist UK Independence Party were keen on them. Reducing immigration in general will hurt Britain’s economy; barring fee-paying students is a particularly damaging way to do it.

Wow, Theresa May has ended up to the right of both Enoch Powell and the UK Independence Party.  I opposed Brexit out of fear that it would open the door to right-wing nationalism, but even I never dreamed that it would end up being this bad.

Statism and nationalism, a poisonous combination.




10 Responses to “Britain is soon going to run out of toes”

  1. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    18. October 2016 at 06:30

    Sumner: “Statism and nationalism, a poisonous combination”, says the man, as MF would say, who believes in government controlled money creation. Luckily, the evidence is that money is largely neutral, so it doesn’t matter, but still it’s a bit hypocritical to talk as Sumner does. As for the ‘there’s never been an (student) immigrant’ quote, it’s just rhetoric. Didn’t Thatcher say ‘there’s no such thing a society’? I guess Sumner doesn’t believe in the Tiebout thesis, namely, if you don’t like a place you can always move (assuming you can afford to do so). For my part, I intend to (legally) move a boatload of Filipinos into Greece by setting up a business. Instead of just talking about it on a blog read by almost nobody, I’m doing something about open borders in a small way.

  2. Gravatar of Daniel Daniel
    18. October 2016 at 06:38

    Statism and nationalism, a poisonous combination.

    I know this will come as a shock to you, but homo economicus does not exist.

    People do have group identities, and they quite like them just the way they are.

    Who could have imagined such a thing ??

  3. Gravatar of Capt. J Parker Capt. J Parker
    18. October 2016 at 08:03

    Academia receives enormous benefits from American Taxpayers. Tax breaks, research dollars, special exemptions from immigration restrictions to allow foreign nationals to live and work (on academic research projects) in the US while studying and taxpayer subsidies for Americans to buy Academia’s products which pushes up the price of higher education for those not qualifying for subsidies. This price rise in addition to the price increase brought on by the additional demand from foreigners. Once foreign nationals earn their degrees the enlightened view (not entirely wrong in my opinion) is that those foreigners who want to stay should be allowed to because of the economic benefits they bring to the US economy.
    Anyone who dare wrongspeak and ask if the relationship between academia and American citizens and taxpayers is too one sided in favor of Academia is what? A poisonous right wing nationalist?

    A fashionable left wing academic thought right now is to wonder if certain segments of the American population have been hurt by the free flow of goods even while the economy as a whole has benefited. If that thought is correct it seems totally reasonable to suppose a similar hurt has occurred to segments of the population by the free flow of students.

  4. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    18. October 2016 at 08:12


    I’ve always thought that Brexit was about nothing but nationalism – all this talk about sovereignty etc. The extent of statism and socialism planned by the May government does surprise me though.

    But, studies claim (citation needed – can’t find source right now) that apparently all nations became more neoliberal, for lack of a better word, upon joining the EU. The EU of course imposed some central governance but until very recently strongly defended free competition and markets – indeed that was its main purpose to begin with, freer markets and no local champions, freer international bidding etc. It was always much more free market than national governments, and the European commission (not directly elected) was more free market then the EU parliament (directly elected). To me that’s notable exhibit #236 (to stay with your labelling …) , that freedom is often orthogonal to democracy. Democratic votes and institutions often end up voting for less individual rights and more group rights. No wonder since votes are won by groups.

    The big irony here is this. If there was ONE country that was more neoliberal than the rest of the EU, it was the old UK. Now they trip over themselves to become more statist than the EU. It’s surreal.

  5. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    18. October 2016 at 09:59

    @mbka, who says: “The extent of statism and socialism planned by the May government does surprise me though” then later “It’s surreal”. So the surreal does not surprise mbka. As for the ‘studies claim’ point, The Economist has been saying for years that Brussels bureaucracy is less intrusive and more free-market than national bureaucracy, so that’s nothing new. As for “democratic votes and institutions often end up voting for less individual rights and more group rights” that’s also well known, it’s known as ‘mob rule’, and that’s why you have a constitution to protect minority rights. Lots of obvious stuff of no obvious value by mbka, but then again nobody reads mbka. Compares unfavorably to Ray Lopez.

  6. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    18. October 2016 at 16:29

    Anyone been checking out “Evonomics” … Just discovered it by way of Noah Smith..
    it’s kicking butt… good stuff…. bulldozing the crumbling bunkers of classical econ’s mechanical-industrial-culture outlook and planting in it’s place an economics based on considering the totality of human study…

    “15 Things That Markets Must Deal with to Work as the Textbooks Say They Do”… Or..the headline I would give it… ” 15 things that libertarians will completely ignore to keep believing the stupid things they believe” ….

  7. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    18. October 2016 at 18:11

    Bill, That list is almost laughably naive. Almost every single one of those is a bigger problem for governments than for markets.

    How are Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley working out so far?

  8. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    18. October 2016 at 19:04


    “The extent of statism and socialism planned by the May government does surprise me though” then later “It’s surreal”. So the surreal does not surprise mbka.

    Reading comprehension?

  9. Gravatar of B Cole B Cole
    19. October 2016 at 05:30

    I detest xenophobes.

    But speaking economically, are not students unproductive and thus just place a burden on goods and services, but do not produce any?

    How about having a lot of seniors move into your nation?

    I suppose, like tourists, students and seniiors import money.

    But an argument made in this space is that importing capital to finance a trade deficit is not a problem.

    Anyway I love students and good will, which is a bigger reason to have them in your country than the macroeconomic effects.

  10. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    19. October 2016 at 12:55

    B Cole said I detest xenophobes.

    Me too! Let’s deport them all!

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