Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cap on Migrant Workers + Student Occupation at Warwick University

A cap of 21, 700 skilled migrants from outside the EEA area was announced two days ago and will come into effect in 2011. The 21, 700 will be composed of a maximum of 20, 700 Tier 2 (General) applicants and 1000 Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) applicants. According to the UK Border Agency website, "Tier 2 (General) [applicants are people] coming to the UK with a skilled job offer to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker" and Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) applicants are scientists, artists and academics who have achieved international recognition.

However, what has been omitted is more interesting than what has been included. The Tier 1 (General) route, for instance, has been closed entirely. Again, according to the Border Agency website, "the Tier 1 (General) category allows highly skilled people to come to the UK to look for work or self-employment opportunities" and does not require applicants to have established job/sponsorship offers. As stated by CMS-Cameron McKenna in their regular legal update: "Despite reports that many Tier 1 (General) migrants have used this category to take low skilled jobs, at the other end of the spectrum, in our experience it has proved invaluable to blue chip employers wishing to bring the most highly skilled workers into the UK." The Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) route has also not fallen under the cap but has had requirements imposed on it whereby those who make less than £40,000 a year will only be allowed to stay in the UK for a year and those who make more will only be allowed to stay for up to five. Again referring to the CMS-Cameron McKenna legal update of 24th November: "It is not clear whether allowances will be taken into account in calculating the salary...If the level of allowances that can be taken into account is scaled back, this will cause problems to employers who meet market rates through a combination of salary and allowances."

So how do these changes affect a humble, non-EU student like me? Quite dramatically in fact. As a law student and aspiring Barrister, I would hope to secure pupillage here. Ironically, being a pupil at a set of chambers is not the same as being a pupil at a University and so I would not be able to continue on there under an extended student visa. If I am lucky enough (and that's a big IF) to secure pupillage, I will have to use that as a key supporting document to get a visa through the Tier 2 (General) route. On the face of it, this new cap/quota seems to indicate that the number of people who can successfully apply through the Tier 2 (General) route will increase by more than 7000. Which should be a good thing, right? The caveat is that there will be greater emphasis on recruiting citizens and fostering global competition for such migrant visas. So, "More Tier 2 (General) CoS’s will be available but this will necessitate advertising in the Job Centre Plus and by one other method for 4 weeks. If a migrant candidate is identified who requires immigration permission, his application will form part of the monthly quota and will be assessed against the pool of candidates who apply globally. There are therefore likely to be longer processing times and a certain lack of certainty regarding the ability to employ migrant workers in the UK." What compounds the difficulty of the situation is that in comparison to City solicitors, investment bankers and other corporate hotshots, pupils and young Barristers in general do not make much money per annum. Given that available maintenance funds and future expected earnings are some of the main standards upon which the points for the 'global migrant competition' are calculated, people like me wouldn't stand much of a chance of securing such a visa.

This issue has obviously been catching the UK headlines (especially because of UK Home Secretary Theresa May's cutting - no pun intended - remarks about net migration) but I noticed that The Daily Star back home has also reported on it. Apparently an official from the British High Commission has had no qualms in saying that "Bangladesh will surely see fewer number of its citizens going to the UK either for jobs or studies" since the UK is still undergoing a recession and there have been a lot of cases of students going to the UK and just working. According to the High Commission, approximately a third of those coming through this route [Tier 1 (General)] were actually doing low-skilled jobs once in the UK and were thus a detriment to local employment levels. It is being argued by the Con-Dem government that "as the recovery continues, we need employers to look first to people who are out of work and who are already in this country."

So if I am being discouraged to work, maybe I can look towards bulking up my educational qualifications before moving elsewhere or back to Bangladesh? Given the recent statements made by Theresa May ("By introducing a system that is more selective and more robust, the government aims to prevent abuse while continuing to attract the top students to our top universities") and the plans for restructuring the Tier 4 student visa route, this seems like an increasingly closed option as well. And if they aren't able to keep me/us physically out, then they can surely try by raising the University tuition fees stratospherically.

Every sentient being in the UK has become aware about the proposed rise in University tuition fees and subsequent protests and clashes against it. There has been potent outrage at the idea that Home students could get charged close to £10,000 for their degrees and, as I highlighted in a previous post, tens of thousands demonstrated in Central London to show it. The demonstrations have now percolated down to University campuses across the country and has been most recently manifested in Warwick where students took over the Arts' Centre Lecture Theatre:

Obviously, it is not an issue that most International/Overseas students can immediately sympathize with as they do not have the benefit of either a capped and subsidized tuition fee or government sponsored grants/loans. But what I have wondered for a while now is that if Home student fees are raised to a level close to that of current Overseas students, then isn't it very likely that Overseas fee levels will be raised commensurately? Wouldn't Theresa May's objective of introducing a 'more selective', 'more robust' system which still attracts great minds from around the world best be served by hiking tuition fees and introducing more merit scholarships for fewer students?

So if it is almost impossible to work and almost impossible to afford the tuition fees, what next for Overseas students?

Some poorly formatted references

UK Visas to turn elusive for Many, The Daily Star:

Tocil, Coventry

****Some Amendments****

Warwick Insite recently published the University's take on the 'Immigration Changes': It details both the changes that have taken place as well as how this affects students (read: international students) at the University. Something that I omitted above was that the phase out of Tier 1 also included the phasing out of Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visas. As mentioned in the document "This marks a return to the days before the first Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education (1999) where obtaining a work permit was the only way in which an international graduate could remain in the UK after studies for employment. It is very difficult to prove that a post cannot be filled from the local (UK/EU labour force) [as required by the new Tier 2 visa requirements]".

It is good to see though that the University is trying to take a stance for the students though; self-serving as their intentions may be! Dr Wendy Piatt on behalf of the Russell Group, argued against the proposals to phase out Tier 1 General and Tier 1 PSW.‘There is a danger that restrictions on post-study workers might weaken the UK’s ability to pull in the world’s most talented students who are also looking to begin their career with a period of work in the UK and who contribute so much to our economy, society and culture. We therefore look forward to contributing to the consultation on student visas to ensure that the new measures do not diminish the international attractiveness of our leading universities’.

Warwick Library

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Trusts Seminar at 9am, 2 vinyls (Billy Joel: Greatest Hits & Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water) and 3 books (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, Marcovaldo by Italo Calvino and The Satires by Juvenal) purchased, laptop fixed, 3.5 hour peer-reviewing training attended, mooting advice given, Four Lions (re)watched and Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal material read.

Quite an interesting day!

Wednesday, 03.11.10

Friday, October 8, 2010

Adagio for Strings & Only The Good Die Young

I sometimes have the experience that after I have learned about something interesting for the first time, I see/hear it again repeatedly over the next few days in the most unusual places. A few days ago, a friend of mine told me that 'Adagio for Strings' had been ranked as the saddest piece of classical music by the BBC's Today program. (While many may be unfamiliar with the title of the piece, rest assured you have all heard it in the TV broadcasting of a funeral or a particularly touching part of a war film) I later discovered that this pathos-inspired 'vote' had been conducted in 2004. Then, just the day after I saw a friend post a link to Tiesto's remix of 'Adagio for Strings' on Facebook! It might not be the most incredible of coincidences, given the popularity of both versions, but it is an example of how once you become particularly aware of something you start seeing it everywhere.

Another example was the song "Only the Good Die Young", which I heard some people talking about the other day. I was surprised, that as a Billy Joel fan, I had not heard it before but after looking it up on You Tube I must say that it now goes right up there with my favourites of his, "Piano Man" and "We Didn't Start the Fire". The song may be about a young man trying to encourage a Catholic girl to lose her virginity but some of the lyrics are incredibly evocative of Christian imagery (e.g. 'crying with Saints', 'stained-glass curtain' and 'built you a temple and locked you away') So much so that its strength of imagery is almost comparable to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". It's surprising for a song that is essentially light-hearted and has such a jaunty tempo; but then again people have started using it as an anti-war anthem and such...

Only the Good Die Young

Come out Virginia, don't let me wait
You Catholic girls start much too late
aw But sooner or later it comes down to fate
I might as well be the one

well, They showed you a statue, told you to pray
They built you a temple and locked you away
Aw, but they never told you the price that you pay
For things that you might have done.....

Only the good die young
thats what i said
only the good die young x2

You might have heard I run with a dangerous crowd
We ain't too pretty we ain't too proud
We might be laughing a bit too loud
aw But that never hurt no one

So come on Virginia show me a sign
Send up a signal and I'll throw you the line
The stained-glass curtain you're hiding behind
(you know)
Never lets in the sun

darlin only the good die young
i tell ya
only the good die young x2

You got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation
You got a brand new soul
mmmm, And a cross of gold
But Virginia they didn't give you quite enough information
You didn't count on me
When you were counting on your rosary

(oh woah woah)

They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it's better but I say it ain't
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
the sinners are much more fun...

you know that only the good die young
thats what i said
i tell ya
only the good die young, X2

well your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation
Aww She never cared for me
But did she ever say a prayer for me? oh woah woah

Come out come out come out virgina dont let me wait,
You Catholic girls start much too late
Sooner or later it comes down to fate
I might as well be the one,
You know that only the good die young

I'm telling you baby
You know that only the good die young
Only the good die young
Only the gooooooooooooooood
Only the good die young
Only the gooooooooooooooood
Only the good die young
Ooooooooooooooooooooooooo ooooooooooo oooooooooo...

(Only the good die young)x2

- Billy Joel


Monday, September 20, 2010

19th and 20th of September 2010

Just in case I forget, I thought I would jot down that on the 19th of September my father and I attended "Von B-A-C-H zu Mozart" at the Konzerthaus Berlin. Despite not knowing much about Baroque or Classical-period music, I can write about what I enjoyed and in this concert it was Mozart's Konzert fΓΌr Klarinette und Orchester A-Dur KV 622 (Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622). I felt that the clarinet solo by the 73-year old Karl Leister was exceptional and I have since come to learn that it was Mozart's final purely instrumental work as he passed away in the December of its publication (1791). Overall, the concert was performed by the excellent Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra and it was the first time that I saw a Clavier played live.
- 19.09.10, Berlin, Germany

Today, Borhan said something remarkable that I found immediately funny but I now wonder what other people would have thought of it. While we were watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and I was translating the particular scene where Mr. Smith forlornly stares at the statue of Abraham Lincoln before leaving corrupt Washington DC, Borhan asked me: Was Abraham Lincoln Muslim? His impression may just have been because of the beard or the name 'Abraham' but it wouldn't be amiss to say that Honest 'Abe had many of the characteristics of an ideal Muslim.
- 20.09.10, Berlin, Germany

P.S. Hopefully I'll get to writing about my visit to Autostadt, Wolfsburg and Danone's project in Bogra, Bangladesh. It got deleted by mistake =/

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Being Persuasive

"_______'s popularity and appeal to the community came out mostly in the way that he spoke...he had the power to change the views of almost any audience. His speaking techniques included talk of virtue and morals, and also quite often he had a few rhetorical questions in his speeches in order to identify with the audience. He would also gesticulate and use ideas and personal experiences in life to keep the listeners’ attention. And his final method was to state that he was always prepared to die in order to save the Revolution." Which public personality is this? (Hint: It's not Glenn Beck or anyone American at all)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gunga Din

Many remember Kipling for his Jungle Book or Kim or even his poem If, but I associate the following poem with him the most:


"You may talk o' gin and beer
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.
Now in Injia's sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them blackfaced crew
The finest man I knew

Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.
He was "Din! Din! Din!
You limpin' lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!
Hi! slippery hitherao!
Water, get it! Panee lao!
You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din."

The uniform 'e wore
Was nothin' much before,
An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,
For a piece o' twisty rag
An' a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.
When the sweatin' troop-train lay
In a sidin' through the day,
Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,
We shouted "Harry By!"
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.
It was "Din! Din! Din!
You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?
You put some juldee in it
Or I'll marrow you this minute
If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"

'E would dot an' carry one
Till the longest day was done;
An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin' nut,
'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.
With 'is mussick on 'is back,
'E would skip with our attack,
An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire",
An' for all 'is dirty 'ide
'E was white, clear white, inside
When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!
It was "Din! Din! Din!"
With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.
When the cartridges ran out,
You could hear the front-files shout,
"Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"

I shan't forgit the night
When I dropped be'ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.
I was chokin' mad with thirst,
An' the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.
'E lifted up my 'ead,
An' he plugged me where I bled,
An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green:
It was crawlin' and it stunk,
But of all the drinks I've drunk,
I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
It was "Din! Din! Din!
'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;
'E's chawin' up the ground,
An' 'e's kickin' all around:
For Gawd's sake git the water, Gunga Din!"

'E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.
'E put me safe inside,
An' just before 'e died,
"I 'ope you liked your drink", sez Gunga Din.

So I'll meet 'im later on
At the place where 'e is gone --
Where it's always double drill and no canteen;
'E'll be squattin' on the coals
Givin' drink to poor damned souls,
An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
Yes, Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the livin' Gawd that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!"

- Rudyard Kipling (1892)

Soon after I arrived in the UK, I found a second-hand book store on Charing Cross Road that had a beautiful hardback edition of this poem with painted illustrations accompanying each stanza. I gave it to my 9-year old cousin Abrar and I hope that it encourages him to read more.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Empire of Cricket

While reading Rahul Bhattacharya's article on the impact of video and particularly YouTube on how cricket-lovers remember and relive the game, I came across the Empire of Cricket documentary series. I have only watched the first part of the India episode so far but it looks genuinely interesting and allows the mildly interested cricket follower a greater insight into the development of the game. While it may not have the elegance of prose of "Beyond a Boundary" or the India segment may not cover as much ground as "Corner of a Foreign Field", but it will definitely do as an introduction to the tamasha =) :

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ten New Ecocides

The UK environmental lawyer Polly Higgins is advocating a new law at the UN that would recognize 'ecocide' as the fifth 'crime against peace'. This article by the Guardian does give immense food for thought regarding our progress towards combating climate change: