Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Sorry, Shirley Williams, but I have to nail your health bill myths (Guardian)

The evidence suggests that if anyone is guilty of trumping truth with tribalism on privatisation and the NHS, it's Williams, says Polly Toynbee.

2. Gordon Brown is nowhere, yet everywhere (Independent)

Without acknowledgement from either side, it is Brown's rulebook that persists, writes Steve Richards.

3. It's unavoidable: we must talk to the Taleban (Times) (£)

The Kandahar tragedy makes it urgent to have all parties at the table - except al-Qaeda, says David Miliband.

4. Irrelevant tax debate shows the sorry state of the coalition (Financial Times)

The toing-and-froing over the top rate has been displacement activity, says Philip Stephens.

5. Neither side is winning, no end is in sight (Independent)

An authoritarian regime can always commandeer what it needs, writes Patrick Cockburn.

6. Labour is losing the economic battle, so it's turning to crime (Daily Telegraph)

No one's listening to the two Eds, writes Mary Riddell. But could law and order policy give them a new audience?

7. United States and Great Britain: an essential relationship (Guardian)

The alliance between our countries is a partnership of the heart - we count on each other and the world counts on that alliance, write Barack Obama and David Cameron.

8. The US labour market is still a shambles (Financial Times)

Little has been done about the underlying structural problems, writes Joseph Stiglitz.

9. Labour's lost liberalism (Guardian)

Now that Blue Labour has come unstuck, the party should reconnect with its orange heritage, argue Patrick Diamond and Michael Kenny.

10. Every Brit should urge their French neighbours to vote to end illegal immigration (Daily Mail)

We should welcome Sarkozy's call to revise the open borders of the EU, argues Janice Atkinson-Small.

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Sooner or later, a British university is going to go bankrupt

Theresa May's anti-immigration policies will have a big impact - and no-one is talking about it. 

The most effective way to regenerate somewhere? Build a university there. Of all the bits of the public sector, they have the most beneficial local effects – they create, near-instantly, a constellation of jobs, both directly and indirectly.

Don’t forget that the housing crisis in England’s great cities is the jobs crisis everywhere else: universities not only attract students but create graduate employment, both through directly working for the university or servicing its students and staff.

In the United Kingdom, when you look at the renaissance of England’s cities from the 1990s to the present day, universities are often unnoticed and uncelebrated but they are always at the heart of the picture.

And crucial to their funding: the high fees of overseas students. Thanks to the dominance of Oxford and Cambridge in television and film, the wide spread of English around the world, and the soft power of the BBC, particularly the World Service,  an education at a British university is highly prized around of the world. Add to that the fact that higher education is something that Britain does well and the conditions for financially secure development of regional centres of growth and jobs – supposedly the tentpole of Theresa May’s agenda – are all in place.

But at the Home Office, May did more to stop the flow of foreign students into higher education in Britain than any other minister since the Second World War. Under May, that department did its utmost to reduce the number of overseas students, despite opposition both from BIS, then responsible for higher education, and the Treasury, then supremely powerful under the leadership of George Osborne.

That’s the hidden story in today’s Office of National Statistics figures showing a drop in the number of international students. Even small falls in the number of international students has big repercussions for student funding. Take the University of Hull – one in six students are international students. But remove their contribution in fees and the University’s finances would instantly go from deficit into debt. At Imperial, international students make up a third of the student population – but contribute 56 per cent of student fee income.

Bluntly – if May continues to reduce student numbers, the end result is going to be a university going bust, with massive knock-on effects, not only for research enterprise but for the local economies of the surrounding area.

And that’s the trajectory under David Cameron, when the Home Office’s instincts faced strong countervailing pressure from a powerful Treasury and a department for Business, Innovation and Skills that for most of his premiership hosted a vocal Liberal Democrat who needed to be mollified. There’s every reason to believe that the Cameron-era trajectory will accelerate, rather than decline, now that May is at the Treasury, the new department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy doesn’t even have responsibility for higher education anymore. (That’s back at the Department for Education, where the Secretary of State, Justine Greening, is a May loyalist.)

We talk about the pressures in the NHS or in care, and those, too, are warning lights in the British state. But watch out too, for a university that needs to be bailed out before long. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.