Policy Papers

This page lists all the policy papers the society has published.

Many of these, particularly those proposing specific legislation, may be out of date (e.g. anything about health). Some may never fall victim to the passing of time (John Kwan’s paper on a written UK constitution comes to mind). But when the society met to discuss these, we read, questioned and improved them, and that approach is why people attend our meetings, write papers, and commission further study.

Modelling Stability after Revolutions

The most noteworthy aspect of the recent political revolutions in the Arab world is that there is nearly always a failure to suddenly superimpose a democratic style of government based on Western political constitutional foundations onto a set of domestic government institutions. Here, I argue that there is a need to consider the notion of a ‘learning equilibrium’ — to recognise that it takes time for institutions and socio-economic agents to adapt their expectations about the new state of governing such that a stable democratic political environment is generated. I conclude with a generic road-map detailing a general pathway for which this learning equilibrium can be attained.

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Students and Alcohol

Written exclusively by students, this paper is uniquely placed to present a broad range of perspectives on issues surrounding young people and alcohol.

  • In the opening chapter, Claudia Leong argues that media presentation of a youth binge drinking culture is unfair and counterproductive: unfair in light of comparable levels of alcohol consumption among other generations and counterproductive in reinforcing negative stereotypes.
  • Debayan Dasgupta, the author of chapter two, targets his proposals for community level partnerships at the problems of underage drinking and cheap, superstrength alcohol, which are in his eyes the key factors in reducing antisocial behaviour surrounding alcohol misuse.
  • The provision of explicit, personalised information is the key proposal of the third chapter, by Gabriel Lambert. He sees potential in making the medical effects of alcohol consumption easier to conceptualise by linking alcohol intake directly to life expectancy. In addition, he makes a wider case for full disclosure of information by alcohol producers, which he hopes would lead people to reduce their consumption, obviating the need for punitive measures.
  • In chapter four, Helena Barman points to the success of graphic health warnings on cigarette packets in arguing for the adoption of a similar strategy for tackling alcohol misuse. Visually arresting images that target heavy drinkers would add shock value to a message, which could be communicated more effectively overall with the help of representative student bodies.
  • Ingrid Hesselbo adopts an anthropological perspective in chapter five. She emphasises the importance of separating the medical effects of alcohol from its cultural associations, and highlights the issue of personal responsibility for actions while intoxicated. She also advocates more liberal licensing laws in the long term, as part of normalising moderate alcohol consumption.
  • Finally, in chapter six Jonathon Hazell argues for further alcohol taxation over minimum pricing as a potentially more progressive system that would see the proceeds go to government rather than alcohol companies. In addition, he draws attention to the fact that, despite the government’s outward concern with phenomena such as preloading, young people are not disproportionately heavy drinkers compared with the general population.

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Engaging with China: towards an assertive relationship with the People’s Republic

This paper argues for a radical shift in the UK’s policy towards the People’s Republic of China (PRC), aiming at a political relationship that transcends the motivation of economic opportunism. It sets out two proposals which present an alternative to the current policy of containment. Instead they promote a relationship of trust and constructive engagement on issues where progress has been lacking for too long.

The first proposal calls on the UK government to recommit itself to the democratic development of its former colony of Hong Kong and to establish a Hong Kong Affairs Liaison Committee as a platform for exchange on this issue. Within this low-key framework of dialogue, the UK should negotiate a quid pro quo which would see the Chinese government put forward a credible roadmap to democracy in Hong Kong along the lines of its 2007 commitment. In exchange, the United Kingdom would lead the European Union in lifting the 1989 arms embargo on the PRC.

Going beyond the issue of Hong Kong, the second proposal calls on the UK to lead an ambitious and creative international effort to resolve the ongoing dispute in the South China Sea by establishing three nature reserves around the disputed Spratly, Paracel and Pratas islands. A focus on conservation and the creation of a sustainable maritime management system will serve as a precedent of cooperation while effectively suspending the sovereignty dispute.

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A Marketing Approach to Risk Factor Management in the Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases in the Developing World

The burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is often eclipsed by the overriding demands of handling communicable diseases in the developing world. Developing countries are faced with a double burden of disease as they begin to face an increasing encumbrance from NCDs during an earlier phase of economic development than their high-income counterparts. The solution is of course, in the timeworn policy: prevention. However, unlike communicable diseases, the risk factors for NCDs are often flared up by lifestyle choices and change must therefore come from within the people.

This paper recommends that in order to achieve maximum return on investment, governments must recognise that changes in lifestyle are best achieved through a marketing approach, where the environment is modified in ways that make healthier actions the easier choices. This marketing model has been analysed under the 4P framework of marketing, looking at a variety of existing interventions around the world, and thereby constructing novel and exciting policy recommendations.

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The Mutual Fund Industry

This report offers some suggestions directed at how quality of service can be improved in the mutual fund industry, how competition can be made more effective and thereby the results for customers as well as successful fund managers improved. It does this by firstly conducting a broad narrative analysis of the many issues which have affected the industry in the past and which still affect it. It then makes a series of policy recommendations setting out what each party involved can do to contribute to better overall outcomes.

How does this market work, and as importantly, in what ways is it not working as well as it could? What are the reasons for this? What is its history, and structure? To what extent is the power of consumer choice the driver of services delivered? Where this is lacking, what are the fundamental reasons for this? What is the effect, both good and bad, of current regulation? What is the range of business structures used and what is their history? Why is it important for fund managers to be able to trust their clients? What should investors look for in a fund manager’s description of themselves? How, and by whom, can consumer understanding of “what active management actually is” be best maintained?

These are some of the questions dealt with in this wide-ranging, narrative, non-technical and discursive report which also makes a series of policy recommendations in the following areas:

  • That open debate on the merits of different business structures is needed.
  • Why and how funds should improve the way they communicate with their investors, and the gains for all parties that can be made from doing so.
  • Why it is crucial for the consumer to understand the basic choice they must make between passive and active management, why current regulation actively confuses this choice, and how the regulatory approach should be modified.
  • What the consumer should look for when they choose an active fund.
  • What the regulator, state or otherwise, should and should not be doing to help.

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Public Health: an Integrated Perspective

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 comes into full force from April 2013. In many ways a controversial piece of legislation, it heralds considerable changes, not least to the governance and practice of Public Health. The changes are designed to enable the health and social care systems to adapt to the shift in the demographic profile of society and the changing prevalence of different types of disease. However, in the area of Public Health in particular, do these changes go far enough?

This paper briefly discusses some of the changes coming in and the challenges that we face as a society if we are to tackle the major limitations to our health. Regardless of the specific health issue in question, as our knowledge of health and disease grows, we are starting to understand in more detail the complex ways in which many factors can interact to contribute to our health. To tackle issues rooted in such complex interactions a combined effort is needed across areas of society which are currently distinct and, in many
cases, disconnected.

The major conceptual change that is still required to make a significant impact on health improvement in the future is to view the health of the public from an integrated perspective. Combining the knowledge and skills from a wide range of disciplines and sectors from central government right through to individual local communities will yield more progress than any one person, profession or sector working alone.

This paper therefore begins to outline some of the ways in which such an integrated perspective might be practically constructed and woven into society at all levels. It is by no means an exhaustive list of possibilities and indeed, the hope is that future thinking might follow the philosophy of the paper, adding to the practical suggestions for how this might be realised.

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What is the 21st Century University for?

A 2013 Conference Paper

This paper comprises of eight individual pieces of policy research which each aim to evaluate the purpose universities play in the society of today. It seeks to contribute to this contemporary debate by designing policy in a way that allows universities to achieve those purposes indefinitely.

Proposed policies are:

Degree content

  • A government-backed work-related learning accreditation for university undergraduate degrees
  • Give undergraduate students the opportunity to take a wider breadth of courses as part of a single degree
  • Integrate entrepreneurial elements into the curriculum

Research

  • Replacement of the HEFCE as the main funding body for university research by a body which assesses research and grants funds with increased flexibility
  • Boost private investment in research through government subsidy and backing

Improving opportunity

  • Exclude international students from net migration figures
  • Expand foundation pre-university courses
  • Affiliate state schools with independent schools
  • Compulsory University Admissions Coordinators in each secondary school
  • Wider use of interviews in the university application process
  • Redistribute financial provision for Master’s courses to £12,000 per capita
  • Provision of a low interest government loan for postgraduates
  • Application of a postgraduate tax

Increasing investment

  • Embrace privatisation
  • Use of the bond markets to secure funds
  • Increase endowment funds

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New Ideas for Higher Education

A 2013 Conference Paper

This compilation explores the idea that a new way of teaching and learning could replace the traditional on-campus, set-syllabus university model.

The focus of the first twelve reports is on e-learning. This body of research and analysis evaluates almost every aspect of e-learning, including (but not limited to):

  • An exploration of the application of online learning methods;
  • Implications of e-learning for access;
  • Implications for the national curriculum;
  • Whether current courses can be taught wholly online;
  • Potential financial models for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses); and
  • How universities in Britain and abroad can approach e-learning.

The final two reports explore different alternative education models that, given a blank state, one might want to adopt. One considers self-set syllabi, something that could take off in conjunction with the rise of e-learning as it becomes more feasible for students to construct and tailor the content of their education. The other is a report authored by two ex-Cambridge students who now run Action Tutoring, a self-started social initiative seeking to provide free tuition to underprivileged children through working with volunteers. This special report ex- plores the theory and practice of applying a private tutoring model on a voluntary basis and the implications it has for our existing educational framework.

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Reconceptualising Post-16 Education in Britain

A 2013 Conference Paper

This paper comprises of four pieces of policy research undertaken by members of The Wilberforce Society which each aim to explore ways of reconceptualising post-16 education and training in society today. It seeks to contribute to this vast debate by designing policy in a way that seeks to improve upon current provision and offer new alternative solutions to long standing problems with the education system in Britain.

Proposed policies are:

Examination Reform

    • External assessment at the end of Key Stage 4 should be limited to mathematics and English alone
    • Abolish equivalence of qualifications
    • The shortening and simplification of the National Curriculum
    • Universities should publish recommendations on appropriate qualifications
    • The introduction of a brand based system of quality assurance
    • Awarding bodies ought to publish details of who they have worked with or consulted

on their qualification syllabuses and examinations

  • Applications to university made once pupils have received their grades

Raising Perceptions of Vocational Training and Education

  • Maintain the momentum of transnational Vocational Training and Education pro- grammes
  • Ensuring central government follow through on their proposals for VET schemes
  • Offering VET schemes to prison offenders
  • A media campaign encouraging positive coverage of vocational education
  • The creation of youth ambassadors for vocational education
  • The organisation of an annual VET conference
  • Investment in a communications campaign
  • Provide employers with incentives to take on apprentices
  • The transferal of careers advice to schools

Learning for Work and Life

  • Train people in appropriate non-directly occupational skills which are vocationally based.
  • More emphasis on fostering creative business talent

Vocational Education in England

  • De-stigmatise the perception of VET
  • Private firms or groups of firms should be allowed to create their own qualifications
  • Introduction of regional sector skills councils
  • Funding of apprenticeships through SFA funds
  • Offering greater literacy and numeracy skills to help the unemployed
  • Improving facilities to remove private sector input in training

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Love thy Teammate: Using Sport to Bring People Together

Prejudice and discrimination, inequalities of opportunity and social alienation are significant problems both within and without the sporting world. I suggest using sport as a tool to change the attitudes of people in the victimised groups as well as those who discriminate; and consequently to increase the opportunities for people from minority groups to participate in sport and in a more inclusive society.

Proposed policies are

  • In school, increase the quantity and diversity of school sports and promote diverse sports scholarships at universities.
  • In communities, introduce village sports days, draft minorities consultants on local projects, integrate specialised & regular sporting facilities, and subsidise outreach & regeneration projects by socially significant sports.
  • In the workplace, target coaching programs at minority groups.
  • In the media, introduce government-sponsored coverage of diverse sports.
  • Investing in big sporting championships is a way of advancing equality issues on a national and international stage.

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