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eu contrasts June 22, 2011

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The EU is preparing for a European Council meeting which will consider economic policy, migration, Croatia, the inclusion of Roma people and the endorsement of the Danube strategy. Commissioner Malmström urges:

we need more solidarity, tolerance and responsibility in our asylum and migration policies, and we need to translate these principles into concrete action. I trust that the EU’s Prime Ministers and Presidents will show leadership in these difficult times, by protecting the values that are now being challenged in many countries in Europe. I hope that this European Summit will confirm that solidarity and responsibility are still key principles worthy of being cherished within the European Union.

Meanwhile last Friday Hungary (finishing up its presidency of the Council of the EU this month) published a web page on famous Hungarian battles.

friday miscellany June 10, 2011

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Simon Jenkins on Grayling’s folly (nb Grayling complains about reactions to the idea); Frank Turner (England Keep My Bones); lobbying as corruption in disguise; European fish week.

what “education” at the new college for the humanities? June 8, 2011

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The Guardian:

Linda Colley, a leading historian of Britain, empire and nationalism, and her husband, Professor Sir David Cannadine, an expert in British history 1800 to 2000 – both based at Princeton University – have taken equity stakes in the New College for the Humanities, but will deliver only one lecture each in the first academic year, Grayling confirmed.

According to the article, others will be teaching 5 hours of lectures, and some even 20 hours over an academic year. So who will actually be doing the teaching?

imf on uk June 7, 2011

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Financial stability in the UK is ..a global public good

private top-ups in education June 7, 2011

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Whereas we often think of education as being separated into private and public sectors there are a couple of illustrations recently that private education may operate alongside public education in troubling ways. One is a report prepared for the EU Commission on The Challenge of Shadow Education which focuses on tutoring in the EU. One of the report’s conclusions is that:

private tutoring is much less about pupils who are in real need of help that they cannot find at school, and much more about maintaining the competitive advantages of the already successful and privileged.

At a time of austerity, where funding for social programs is under threat, this is particularly troubling. The privileged can mitigate – for themselves – the damage caused to public education systems caused by spending cuts. And, in the UK, they will be able to think about sending their offspring to the glitzy New College for the Humanities (see Eagleton v Johnson) which will offer courses taught by celebrity academics and (courtesy of the University of London International Programmes (which used to be the external degree)) a University of London degree. I think the fuss about plagiarism of syllabi is a bit overblown, as the work of publicly funded academics should surely benefit the public. The London external program has been running for a very long time, and has some very eminent alumni, including Derek Walcott and Ronald Coase. Not that it is clear that many of the future students of the New College for the Humanities will ever be among them.

Update 3.45pm: In the US my colleague Osamudia James argues that for-profit higher education isn’t as useful to students as the providers claim.

the problem of managing food risks June 4, 2011

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Eating a supposedly healthy diet can be risky. Having to balance the risks of consuming mercury against the health benefits of eating fish can lead in the direction of a vegetarian diet. But vegetables – right now especially salad vegetables – can be dangerous too. And it seems that women are affected by the recent e coli problems more frequently than men. Until the source of the problem is identified the UK’s Food Standards Agency gives some pretty useless advice about salad risk management:

The Agency is reminding consumers of the importance of basic food hygiene practices when preparing food.
It is a good idea to wash fruit and vegetables before you eat them to ensure that they are clean, and to help remove germs that might be on the outside. Peeling or cooking fruit and vegetables can also remove these germs.

stakeholders, law & society June 1, 2011

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I’m in San Francisco for the Law & Society conference (presenting my paper on stakeholders). One of the things I talk about in the paper is the idea that ordinary citizens are mostly not thought of as having anything useful to say about financial regulation (although they do bear the costs of regulatory failure). The challenge I’m thinking about is to figure out how to give citizens a more effective voice in this area (or at least a greater part of the area than the part they are currently invited into).

I wonder whether the EU has any lessons here for domestic governmental authorities? The EU Commission is now running a competition

to collect “real evidences” of the use of the Single Market by their main actors (citizens, consumers, SMEs) from all Member States.

On the other hand the story-telling idea was an idea of the current US administration, and though the EU competition opened on May 26th there seem to be only two submissions so far. The competition is open until June 24th.