Yes Minister and Foreign Students

Ashley Thorne

Carol Iannone, the Editor-at-Large of our journal Academic Questions, writes in:

Recently I just happened upon the DVDs of Yes, Minister, an absolutely superb British comedy series from the 1980s about a Cabinet Minister and his canny civil servant undersecretary.  Each episode is funny and amazingly intelligent and well written, satirizing some aspect of British government bureaucracy and its darkly comical failure to fulfill the public's needs. One episode concerned higher education, with lots of amusing details about the way it works in Britain.  (Oxford seems to be the alma mater of the greater part of the senior civil service, although not necessarily of the elected officials.)  One of the Oxford colleges is running out of money because the government has withdrawn the allowance for foreign students, a considerable 4000 pounds.  When asked why they don't take more British students, the dons express disdain at the mere 500 pounds that British natives get for attendance at Oxford. This reminded me that an interested friend informed me not long ago that American community colleges take foreign students.  He pointed out how irregular that is.  When you think about it, there is nothing in the stated aims and mission of the community college network, not to mention in the meaning of the word "community," that should entail accepting foreign students.  Could it also have something to do with the money, as in Yes, Minister?  Government money?  Or the money paid straight out by the foreign students themselves, or perhaps by their governments?
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March 23, 2011

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