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UCL events news and reviews


Migration Week Policy Podium

By Lara J Carim, on 13 April 2011

UCL Migration Week featured a series of lectures, panel discussions, conferences and exhibitions, exploring migration from a number of academic perspectives. Tom Palmer, (third year BSc Economics) describes the debate that took place on 6th April at the Policy Podium, which was organised by Professor Christian Dustmann of the UCL Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM).

An expert panel sought to discuss various pressing questions relating to migration policy.

The panel included:
• former Home Secretary Charles Clarke
• the Spanish Director General for Immigration Markus Gonzalez Beilfuss
• former Prospect editor David Goodhart
• Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee Professor David Metcalf, and
• President and Provost of UCL, Malcolm Grant.

The event was chaired by the BBC’s Evan Davis, a very familiar voice to many of us who had woken to his dulcet tones on the radio that morning!

This broad panel meant that a wide range of views from various backgrounds were represented, from education to economics to politics, and views in favour of immigration, as well as those that were somewhat sceptical, were examined. This led to some lively discussion and active debate between the panellists and the audience.

One of the key issues addressed was political accord, and the direction in which immigration policy ought to be moving. Professor Metcalf emphasised that consensus has begun to emerge more recently over issues such as the provision of public services to migrants, and the cohesion of immigrants. He did, however, point to various issues over which politicians were still in disagreement, including migrant families, and solutions to illegal immigrants.

By the end of the discussion it appeared that a certain level of consensus had been reached by the panel – despite the wide range of views and notable disagreement on certain issues. All members of the panel were in agreement that administration and governance of immigration needed to be formidable and watertight, while there was also significant agreement over investment in human capital for the home population in order to ensure that home workers are able to compete in an increasingly competitive labour market.

There was, however, significant disagreement amongst panel members over the government’s flagship policy of capping immigration so that it falls from the “hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands”. That was highlighted as an important area for further debate.

The discussion continued into the networking session that followed in the cloisters of UCL. All in all, it was an enjoyable and constructive discussion, which will help to frame the debate over this highly contentious and important issue.

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