Category Archives: Great Britain

Brexit: What have we done?

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Source: Wharton

Guest Blog by Phillip Warwick.philipwarwick

On 23rd June, 16 million UK citizens voted to stay in the European Union (EU). That’s equivalent to population of the Netherlands.  Unfortunately, 17 million other UK citizens voted to leave the EU.  The vote has sent shock waves through universities in the UK.  Will international students still want to come to the UK?  Will faculty from EU countries need a visa in future?  What will happen to the Erasmus scheme in the UK? What about EU funding for research?  Will we still be able to afford to go on holiday in France, Spain and Italy?  All these questions have been discussed in subdued corridor conversations over the last couple of weeks.

Sitting in a Business School in the north-east of England, I feel that my academic colleagues and I need to speak-up in the national debate about how we arrived at this sorry state of affairs. It would of course be easier to fall into line and accept the received wisdom in the serious newsmedia that it was the fault of the self-serving politicians and ill-informed voters in the English provinces. I have heard this line at several meetings and HE conferences I have attended in the last couple of weeks.  Clearly politics has had a lot to do with it.  But we need to explain more clearly why we think a region like ours, the north-east of England (a region that has apparently benefited from all the EU has to offer) should vote so heavily against the EU and for Brexit? At first glance it does seem crazy.

I moved to the North-East of England in 1990. For those of you who don’t know it, think of the bridges over the River Tyne; think of Newcastle United, Sunderland and Middlesbrough football teams; think of the setting for film Billy Elliot and think of Durham Cathedral. The North-East of England is the bit south of Scotland and north of Yorkshire.  By 1990, the north-east’s coal mines had all but disappeared, the massive Consett steel works had shut down in 1989 and the shipyards of Newcastle and Sunderland were in terminal decline.  The old heavy industries that had made the North East relatively rich and powerful at the start of the twentieth century were by the end of the century all but gone.

However, there were signs of regeneration. Thanks to the European Regional Development and European Social Funds, infrastructure investment meant that a very good road network had been created criss-crossing the region.  EU subsidies meant that Japanese and Korean multinationals like Nissan, Fujistsu, Komatsu and Samsung set-up factories employing thousands of workers.  EU funds enabled One North East, a highly successful regional development agency, to fund a significant number of projects around the North-East including the creation of the iconic developments on the Newcastle/Gateshead quayside (The Baltic and The Sage) and the Teesdale Business Park, home to Durham University’s Queen’s Campus, on Teesside.

Despite all this benefit, with the exception of the affluent Newcastle suburbs, the whole of the North-East of England voted around 60/40 to leave the EU on 23rd June.   Many of my neighbours, my wife’s work colleagues, some of my old school friends, the people I play golf and cycle with, the people at the gycameron3.jpgm, the customers at the paper shop, and hairdressers – all told me they were going to vote leave.  Vote leave supporters tended to be in their 40s or older, were less likely to have attended a higher education institution and were more likely to be from outside the main urban areas in England and Wales (they were also the most likely to make the effort to vote).  Remain supporters tended to be younger, better educated and were more likely to be from the main urban areas or they were from Scotland or Northern Ireland (and, especially the young, less likely to vote).

 

The Brexit vote was not just about the EU, it was arguably as much about an unfair distribution of wealth and power in the UK. It was a vote against the globalisation. A vote that hoped to turn the clock backwards. Those with degrees, good jobs, nice cars, nice houses and cultural capital voted to stay in the EU, to retain the 21st century status quo.  Those who voted against were often the have-nots, the angry and those frightened by the globalised world.  David Cameron’s stupid idea for a referendum gave the angry, the frightened and the have-nots a single cause around which to unite.  Worried by the impact of globalisation, with a suspicion of outsiders (typical of much of rural England) and fuelled by a pack of lies from self-serving politicians who promised an end to mass immigration and divert EU funding to the health service.

The have-nots voted against the haves. They voted against David Cameron and George Osborn and their Tory government; they voted against all the self-serving political classes; they voted against bankers who crashed the economy in 2008, against Goldman Sachs, the hedge fund managers and the bosses of big business; they voted against the London centric media; they voted against the experts in the universities and they voted against the bureaucrats at the E.U. They voted against those who pay themselves vast salaries and those who they perceive to waste British tax payers money. The irony is, of course, that they were told to vote against all these things by three very rich men. Eton and Oxford educated, Boris Johnson, a privately educated, former stockbroker turned MEP, Nigel Farage and a US based, Australian media mogul, Rupert Murdoch (none of these three villains have any role in sorting out the mess they helped to get the country into).

Source: The Gaurdian

Those who are frightened by change, by foreigners, by the modern world, those who want to put the clock back 100 years to an era where the UK had power and influence, also all voted against EU. Those angered by politicians and big business, all the xenophobic little Englanders, all the racists and the right and far left extremists also voted for Brexit.

The remain voters, who we can call the haves with social capital, working in well-paid jobs in London and the home counties, in Oxford and Cambridge or one of the big metropolitan cities, those of us working in higher education or in the media, did not see this vote coming. Perhaps because we don’t mingle so much with the have-nots; perhaps we thought that our better informed votes would somehow count for more. We didn’t understand that people vote irrationally with their heart rather than in a well-informed rational way, with their head.  We didn’t understand how others see the globalised world as threatening and frightened rather than full of opportunities.  We didn’t understand how many people perceive themselves to be on the outside, the have-nots. Only in Scotland and Northern Ireland were there politicians, who representing the haves as well as the have nots, were listened to and agreed with.

I think as academics we have a job to do, to explain what happened in the UK on 23rd June and why.  If the UK is going to come through the trauma of Brexit, we need to be telling the government and anyone who will listen that the UK needs to tackle the unfair distribution of power, wealth and influence.

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Filed under Advanced Management Program, Economics, Education, Europe, Great Britain, Higher Education, Politics, UK

“Little Englanders” and their impact on Higher Education in the UK (A guest post by Philip Warwick)

1966 FIFA World Cup Final: England won against West Germany at Wembley Stadium in London

There is a particular brand of thinking in the UK that has a petrifying view of the past.  Not petrifying as in scary horror films, but petrifying as in to preserve in stone.  Examples of this view are seen in the English public and popular press in the run-up to the Football World Cup.  Where English football is concerned it is forever 1966, the country expects nothing less than England to come home with the Cup (completely ignoring the evidence of past performances).  Next month, the British public will vote in large number for a UK independence party in the European Elections, in the mistaken belief that the UK can float independently from the EU, completely ignoring late 20th century history and the evidence of international business activity that demonstrates that many of the UK’s large businesses owe their existence to trade with EU countries.  These Little Englanders as I will call them (they tend to be led by pompous white middle-aged politicians and popular press journalists from Englandnot Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) have this idea that we can petrify or preserve this view of the world in which our the UK can operate independently of the rest of world in a time warp of mid-20th century history that never really existed and certainly no longer exists in our contemporary globalised world.

Britain’s U.K. Independence Party slogan: “Who really runs this country? 75% of our laws are now made in Brussels”.

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Durham University, research and Harry Potter!

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Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting up with two GEM students currently studying at Durham University in the north of England and my colleague and good friend, Philip Warwick. As well as being a regular contributor to Global Ed, Philip has done some excellent research on strategy and the internationalization of British universities and we are currently working on a research project together in the same field. While I was there though, I asked the two students, Margot Stokes  and Janhaëlle Ribeiro-Storm to give their perspective on studying in the UK and life as an international student.  Continue reading

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How do students choose where to study? (Philip Warwick)

warwick international cover

Autumn is the time of year when many newspapers and journals produce their university league tables.   For example, September saw the publication of the Financial Times (FT) Business Education Supplement, and in the UK the Sunday Times Good University Guide, offering different takes on where to study.  These two are targeted at very different audiences.  The Sunday Times Guide is aimed at parents as much as students, recognising that parents have a significant stake in the decision making process that leads to undergraduate study choices, whilst the FT Supplement is written for mainly for business people intent on furthering their careers, by making a shrewd investment in a Masters level qualification.

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Filed under Business, Business Schools, Careers, China, Great Britain, Higher Education, India, International studies, Travel

Peter Drucker Forum 2013: “Scotland since 2007 – one approach to the challenge of public sector agility” by John Elvidge

john elvige

John Elvidge shared some of his experiences of change based on the example of the governmental changes  in Scotland in 2007. He began with the warning that this was an outlier and might not always be applicable. Reassuring the audience, he said that he would not pronounce the word airport.

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Filed under Behavior, Business, Business Schools, Conference, Economics, Government, Great Britain, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Peter Drucker Forum, Strategy

Gallipoli: Drawing different lessons from history.

Gallipoli: Drawing different lessons from history.

300 kilometres south west of Istanbul lies the small seaside town of Gelibulo. With a population of 30 000, this friendly little town has the makings of the perfect place to get away from the noise and the bustle of Istanbul. The sun never stops shining and the temperature is a near perfect 30°C. Only the incessant wind prevents it from being the ideal tourist location.

If this small town is practically unheard of under its Turkish name, its English translation, Gallipoli, is known to all historians of the First World War. Depending on where you come from though, you might not come to the same conclusions. The French have all but forgotten this 8 month campaign and the British view it as a foolhardy side show that was championed by Winston Churchill. To Australians and New Zealanders it is the symbol of the devastation suffered by their ANZAC soldiers for a colonial power. For the Turks, however, the campaign is one of their greatest victories which the rise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and ultimately saw the birth of the Turkish Republic.  Continue reading

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How partnerships can enhance organisational change.

Conferences, Partnerships and Change

Whilst the subject of the UK Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2013 conference, at Warwick University was partnerships; the issue of organisational change also ran through nearly all the sessions, in particular the idea that universities cannot stand still doing the same thing year after year.  Speaker after speaker illustrated how partnerships are one way in which they can effect change.

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