Louis Ryan2nd year English Language and Philosophy
The outsourcing of the Turing plan is the latest victory for the Conservative Party in their quest to turn a profit over the people. But how concerned are students about the privatization of the foreign exchange program?
As it turned out, very worried.
The Turing scheme replaces the Erasmus programme, which the UK government sacrificed during the Brexit negotiations. Until Brexit, Erasmus funded about 18,000 British undergraduate students annually (mostly modern language students) to study abroad in another European country.
Capita Turing chart. How to destroy the credibility of what was supposed to be an important program in one easy step. It also undermines the British Council, a major British institution. https://t.co/30LJvmLHhE
– David Henig (@DavidHenigUK) December 9, 2021
Joe Grady, secretary general of the Association of Universities and Colleges, opposes Turing’s privatization based on Capita’s “shocking failure record” with other government contracts.
Capita’s track record includes ‘miserably failing’ working with the military, as well as risking ‘potentially serious patient harm’ in a £330m contract with the NHS, and a more recently ‘turbulent’ £27m contract with Manchester Police. Grady compares this to the British Council’s history of “significant experience managing student exchange”, having successfully run Erasmus, Erasmus Plus and now Turing Scheme since 2007.
Thus, capital seems to be only the latest example of communism
So why, in July, did the government award the contract to popular outsourcing firm Capita, which was said to have bid well below the £6m valuation?
The past year has shown you are about as close to finding smoke without fire as you are likely to find Tory privatization without corruption. The government’s recent record of ‘chumocracy’ includes handing over £1 billion in contracts to Conservative friends and donors since the start of the pandemic.
The National Audit Office reports in this period that “companies with a political referral were 10 times more likely to win a government contract than those without” — in other words, the government’s version of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
The Turing Scheme is now officially open for applications and replaces the European Union’s Erasmus+ program from September 2021.
Schools, colleges and universities can now apply for funding so students can study and work around the world.
– Gavin Williamson (GavinWilliamson) March 12, 2021
The Board of Directors of Capita Lucy includes Jeanne Neville-Rolfe, who runs the company and has also served on the Board of Directors as an Independent Non-Executive Director since 2017. Conservative Minister.
Thus, Capita appears to be just the latest example of chumocracy – the Johnson government offering contracts to the unsupervised and incompetent. But how Capita plans to spend the £110m (including management costs) is the main concern.
The future of languages in the UK looks bleak
Turing’s new site pays almost no attention to improving language skills (the philosophy underpinning the Erasmus programme), focusing instead on relations with English-speaking countries outside Europe as part of the government’s post-Brexit mantra of “Global Britain”.
Given that, combined with the government’s desperate promises to boost trade with English-speaking countries, Australia and the United States, it’s not hard to argue that trade relationships and not the languages - or the students learning them – might be the focus of the government’s vision here.
The new Turing site pays almost no attention to improving language skills
Academics fear that because European funding and partnerships are no longer guaranteed as a result of our Erasmus departure, UK language students will only receive enough funding for one semester abroad instead of a year, reducing UK language scores from four to three years.
Watt, the French expert at the University of Exeter, suggests that to accommodate this slash of language students learning hours, “students will be strongly encouraged to spend time outside on their holidays”, but they should “only take the time [their] Study abroad leave if [they] can be tolerated. Therefore, it appears that the study of languages is becoming increasingly unavailable to students from low-income backgrounds.
The UK government has decided to leave the EU’s Erasmus+ program and replace it with the UK-focused Turing system.
– Max Firas January 13, 2021
Given the background of a sharp decline in the learning of modern languages in the UK, the future of languages in the UK looks bleak.
Since 2010, at least nine university modern language departments have closed in the country, which goes hand in hand with a 2 in 5 reduction in the number of students accepting offers of modern language courses. Additional financial barriers to low-income students accessing the languages of study will further weaken these numbers.
Nicola Sturgeon describes UK’s departure from Erasmus as ‘cultural sabotage’
Philosopher Julian Baggini wrote that “Erasmus was a symbol of the erosion of walls, the freer movement … of people and ideas,” and is essentially the opposite of a post-Brexit scheme – a symbol of how “walls rise again.”
The paradox of the scheme that moves us far away From Europe and its languages named after a man whose life in fact helped both union and dialect to survive, he seems particularly callous of the UK government.
But this double-talk came as no surprise from a government that screams “Global Britain,” and turns its back on the world, which is fighting the climate crisis by making flights cheaper; who describe peaceful protesters as “violent criminals” and riot police who beat them as “heroes”.
As language learning wanes in the UK, Europe’s voice is starting to fade – and in its place, Boris Johnson’s cries get louder. Nicola Sturgeon describes the UK’s departure from Erasmus as “cultural sabotage”, but it is worse than that – a downturn in the tide of democratic erosion currently threatening UK shores.
As current students, it is our moral duty to speak up on behalf of future students, as the education we enjoy becomes increasingly inaccessible.
Featured image: Unsplash / Sanga Rima Roman Selia
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