The Wilberforce Society | Policy Papers
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Policy Papers

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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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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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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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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Twitter: #TWSTunisia

The Wilberforce Society is proud to announce the release of its largest project of 2012, a Comprehensive Proposed Constitutional Framework for the Republic of Tunisia, commissioned by the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly. The Report features a new constitutional framework for Tunisia, supported by in-depth research.

“An impressive Constitution.”
Constitutional Law Professor and Supreme Court advocate, Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School, on TWS’s project.

 

Media coverage includes article at Tunisia Live.

Press release

Contact: Mr. George Bangham
Telephone: +44(0)7854 392060
Email: chairman@wilberforcesociety.co.uk

CAMBRIDGE, UK, 26/09/2012 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY CONSULTANTS AUTHOR PROPOSED TUNISIAN CONSTITUTION
Commissioned Think Tank is the Only U.K. Group to Draft a Comprehensive Anti-Corruption Constitution of Tunisia

The Wilberforce Society (TWS) is pleased to release the product of its largest commissioned project to date. Today, it publishes a comprehensive report, comprising a constitutional framework for Tunisia and in-depth supplementary research.

The report was commissioned by the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly and Office of the General Rapporteur in early 2011. The Wilberforce Society’s proposed Draft and analysis may now be viewed at <http://thewilberforcesociety.co.uk/tws-tunisian-constitution/>.

TWS’s report has been produced by an able team of 26 experts and students, chosen after a rigorous selection process. The Project was led by Dr. Riddhi Dasgupta, TWS’s senior advisor and the chief draftsperson, and Mr. George Bangham, Chairman of the Society. They have received consultation and briefing from lawyers, economists, diplomats and political advisors in Tunisia and around the world.

Dr. Dasgupta and Mr. Bangham jointly issued a statement describing the report as “TWS’s most ambitious project to date, and a rare and fascinating opportunity for scholarship to combine with real-life political change in the aftermath of the Arab Spring”. During their fieldwork in Tunisia, and North Africa generally, the Project utilised influencer analysis, social media analysis, scenario planning, future analysis, and crowdsourcing from Tunisian academics, politicians, NGOs, and citizens.

This Constitutional Draft is set apart from other submissions in three respects. First, it takes a vigorous stance against public as well as private corruption. Second, in Article 18 proposes restrictions on the injection of corporate and foreign funding into Tunisian elections. Third, it promotes a very clear separation of powers and some of the Executive’s non-unilateral powers. The accompanying documents lay out in extensive detail the political and economic choices that confront the Tunisian people as well as the need to balance constitutional permanence and flexibility.

A TEDx event, with the new Constitutional Draft as its centerpiece, will be held in 2013. The event will broadly address the stimulating theme of The Failure Paradox. More information will be released soon.

About The Wilberforce Society
The Wilberforce Society, the first student-run think tank to be established in the UK, is the country’s leading student-run think tank. It has no political affiliation, incorporating the wide range of views of students at the University of Cambridge. TWS links students with policymakers around the UK and beyond, publishing work in the last year on topics as varied as homelessness in Cambridge and the UK National Security Council. Papers have received significant media and political attention. More information can be found on the TWS website, www.thewilberforcesociety.co.uk

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Contact details
For more information on the Tunisia Project, and for general information on TWS or other media enquiries including interviews, please contact:

Mr. George Bangham, Chairman of TWS
(chairman@wilberforcesociety.co.uk)

Dr. Riddhi Dasgupta, Senior Advisor to the Constitution Project
(rdasgupta@cantab.net)

Mr. Millad Matin, Director for Press
(press@wilberforcesociety.co.uk)

Project history

For the proposed Constitution TWS took special care to consult with lawyers and political experts from Cambridge and around the world. With its members drawn from the very ablest of Cambridge University’s students, this project proved to be TWS’s most ambitious and exciting undertaking to date.

The research involved the drafting of a new constitutional framework, with the accompanying research divided into 5 key themes:

1. Separation of Powers

2. Judicial Independence and Judicial Review

3. Individual Rights and Responsibilities

4. Democracy and Fair Elections

5. Anti-Corruption Laws and Practices

An international consultation

TWS’s involvement in this project was supported by its extensive network of academics, diplomats, politicians and think-tanks, with whom it will share research and findings. It is hoped that the involvement of a student think-tank in the Tunisian Constitutional Framework will help provide new and unexpected insights into the drafting of a 21st-century constitution, and the students involved will aim to apply their academic interests and expertise to the project’s benefit.

Research in Tunis

Representatives of the TWS Panel spent summer 2012 carrying out political research in Tunis. Amongst many meetings with representatives of Tunisian politics and civil society, they consulted the President of the Constituent Assembly, Mr. Mustapha Ben Jafar, the Minister for Culture, Mr. Mehdi Mabrouk, and representatives from the major political parties (including Ennahda and Ettakatol) and the UGTT, Tunisia’s trade union syndicate. Meetings were also held with independent observers including Tunisia Live news, The Carter Center Tunis, and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The TWS Tunisia Constitution Panel submitted its report to the Tunisian Constituent Assembly on Wednesday 26th September 2012. For more information on the project, please contact the Project co-ordinators, Dr. Riddhi Dasgupta (rdasgupta@cantab.net) and George Bangham (chairman@wilberforcesociety.co.uk).

About Dr. Riddhi Dasgupta

Dr. Riddhi Sohan Dasgupta has recently completed a PhD in Expropriation in International Investment Regimes at the University of Cambridge. He studied for a first degree at Columbia University, New York, before completing his MSc at the University of Oxford. His Doctoral dissertation is to be published shortly as a book entitled “International Interplay: Future of Expropriation Across International Dispute Settlement.”

For more information please visit Dr. Dasgupta’s website.

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The increasingly errant forecasting of the Bank of England (the Bank) and the challenges presented by unconventional monetary policy (in particular, quantitative easing [QE]) which it has used to counter the UK’s fall into economic stagnation have placed its credibility under scrutiny.

This paper identifies the key threats to the credibility of the Bank of England, both now and in the near future, which it must address if it is to maintain efficacy in a world after QE.

  • First, the Bank’s CPI inflation target is inadequate in an environment of increasingly volatile food, and upwards trending commodity prices.
  • Second, following a comprehensive review, we find that the Bank’s stated exit strategy from QE — resting on a mirror-image asset sale and the issuance of Bank of England Bills — is unsatisfactory, particularly given the predominantly long-dated nature of the Bank’s bond-holdings.
  • Third, the communication challenge presented by QE, and indeed any attempt to exit it, is straining the Bank’s communications framework. To be credible in this new world of multiple monetary policy instruments, the Bank needs to recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for central bank communication.

We present three recommendations to address these threats and restore the Bank’s credibility:

  • A core inflation target would align the Bank’s tacit objective with its stated one,
  • Committing to not selling the assets purchased under QE would clarify the Bank’s exit strategy, and
  • Adopting a tailored approach to communicating different policy instruments would create a more coherent communications framework.

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This paper examines the English legal profession as it stands, as well as assessing the major proposals for reform. The paper also analyses recent changes to the legal profession and their potential impact, including the LSA 2007 and the role of ABS models.

The paper’s proposals include that the legal education system in England and Wales should have a common starting point for both barristers and solicitors, similar to the Hong Kong model; that a merger of the professional regulatory bodies would be unworkable in the short term; and that while the two professions of barrister and solicitor should not be merged forcibly, a gradual movement towards solicitor-advocacy should be encouraged.

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This paper proposes a series of population interventions to improve children’s diet with the aim to both directly reduce the incidence of childhood obesity and to encourage the development of healthy eating behaviours in children. Proposals are split into three population levels at which they can be enacted – industry, schools and parents and carers.

At the industry level, the paper proposes a comprehensive system of Pigouvian taxation on foodstuffs, based on their nutritional content; the introduction of compulsory front-of-pack labelling using a joint GDA and traffic lights system; and the regulation of advertising of unhealthy foods directed at children on the internet or before 9pm on television. At the school level, this paper proposes the provision of free school lunches to all pupils, as well as strict policies on what can be included in packed lunches; Ofsted inspection of whether schools ensure their students eat one healthy meal per day; and the introduction compulsory cookery classes. Finally for parents and carers, this paper proposes providing materials and educational sessions to parents on how to provide a healthy diet and how to recognise when their child is overweight.

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TWS’s first Annual Conference, held in January 2012 on the theme of ‘Public Policy for Cyberspace’, was accompanied by our introduction to the policy debates surrounding this area.

The paper was written by our specially-formed subcommittee on cyberspace, chaired by Albert Beardow.

Please email policy@wilberforcesociety.co.uk for more information.

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