Transforming Higher Education

Dr Terence Kealey highlights the reasons why American universities are superior to ours, and other economically advantaged nations'. He states that the aim of all universities must be to move away from state dependence to independence, with there being an urgent need for their endowments to be restored to assist in this move.

The best universities in the world are independent, but in the UK we've made the mistake of allowing governments to fund - and therefore control - the universities directly. The Higher Education Funding Councils should be abolished, and the universities should be freed of state control. The HEFCs' funds should be transfered to needs blind funding agencies to allow students, regardless of background, to access higher education on the grounds solely of merit.


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Working Welfare

Inspired by the successful US welfare reforms of the 1990s, the proposals in Working Welfare would make work central to the benefits system. All working age people not meeting national disability criteria would face "immediate work requirements". This requirement would be backed with tough sanctions – "no work, no benefits" – and any absence from mandated work without good cause would trigger a pro rata reduction in benefit payments. The ASI proposals would also revolutionize the delivery of welfare. Responsibility for its provision and administration would be devolved to local agencies, which would be paid according to results. Agencies would be rewarded for getting people into work for a set period of time, ensuring an ongoing and personalised service for jobseekers. The report also advocates raising the personal income tax allowance to £12,000, to tackle high effective marginal tax rates for those trying to enter the workforce, and to make life easier for those with low incomes.


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Open Access for UK Schools

Open Access for UK Schools: What Britain can learn from Swedish Education Reform argues for a radical overhaul of the UK school system.

Inspired by Sweden's experience, the report calls for the UK to implement a universal open access scheme, which would allow parents to send their children to any school of their choice – whether state, private or religious – and make these schools eligible for government funding on a per–pupil basis. Two conditions must be met: the schools must not charge additional fees, and must accept pupils on a first-come-first-served basis.


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Land Economy

Land Economy proposes the most radical change in land use in decades, putting the case for redeveloping agricultural land into a combination of woodland, housing and infrastructure.

By converting just 3 percent of the farms in England and Wales over a ten year period, covering 90 percent of the land with trees and the other 10 percent with houses, we would create 950,000 new homes and almost 130,000 hectares of new woodland.


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Alternative EU Constitution

John Hopkins won the Institute's £1000 prize for the best draft EU Constitution under 3000 words in length. The contest was inspired by widespread and growing concern that both the original rejected constitution and the new draft treaty are far too long and complex to be comprehensible to the citizens of EU member states. The new draft Treaty (English version) is 67,000 words long. The US Constitution, by contrast, is just 7,700 words long.


The Right to Choose: Yes, Prime Minister!

Sweden has been operating a choice-based school funding system since the early 1990s, with great success.

To promote this right to choose in the UK, three proposals are recommended: (1) parents should be entitled to remove their children from failing schools and choose any other school instead; (2) public finance would be available to all schools on the basis of the number of students they could attract; and (3) a non-refundable tax credit to provide parents with a pound-for-pound reductions in their income tax liability (up to an agreed limit) for each child they have in non-state education.


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Britain must get off the back foot in EU negotiations and positively advance its own vision of what the EU should be like. While other countries vigorously promote federalism, Britain is reduced to being a permanent critic - the Grumpy Old Man of Europe. Instead Britain should be linking with other countries to advance its vision of a common market, open trade, cost-consciousness, better decision-making, and deregulation. These goals would be as good for the whole of Europe as they would be for Britain. Instead of a fruitless debate about pulling out of the EU, we should be striving to end protectionism and make it a paragon of open markets, free trade, and efficient administration.


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Road Map to Reform: Deregulation

"Over-regulation depresses corporate profits, consumes valuable management time and saps entrepreneurial morale," say the authors. "It makes the UK less attractive to investors and destroys the wealth creation on which the whole of government depends."

There are three big sources of red tape - the EU, Whitehell, and the regulatory offices like Ofcom and Ofwat. For each one, we need to make sure that fewer new regulations are created, that existing ones are rationalized, and that enforcement does not become over-zealous.


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What EU would be best and how do we achieve it?

The crucial EU issue for the UK is not whether to leave or stay in the Union, but what Britain can do to achieve the EU it most wants. Threats to leave are counter-productive and reinforce an image of Britain as a grumpy old man best left alone and placated only when essential. Success will require a positive approach and cordial relations with those other member states likely to share those particular goals. Grandiloquent claims of British 'leadership' are equally unhelpful. The UK needs a strategic plan, to which this report is intended to contribute, and rather more effective diplomacy.  

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Road Map to Reform: Health

In this report, part of the ASI's influential Road Map series, the authors seek to retain what is best about the NHS, in particular the fairness that it represents. The report is based on the principle that everyone should have high-quality healthcare free at the point of use, and assumes that most healthcare will continue to be funded through taxation. Nonetheless the authors also propose to unleash the power of enterprise and innovation in how healthcare is actually provided. This requires breaking through the ideological barricades - a public-private mixture is really the only way forward.

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