OpenDemocracy needs your help

The site is just £50,000 short of its fundraising target.

OpenDemocracy, the digital commons which has hosted groundbreaking campaigns like OurBeeb and OurNHS, and insightful investigations like Cities in Conflict and oDRussia, an examination of the post-Soviet world, is just £50,000 short of its funding target.

The site, like many others in the same sphere, operates as a not-for-profit counter to corporate media, attempting to publish independent, public interest content. But such content is incredibly hard to make sustainably, and the site fell into debt while focusing on expansion over the past two years. As a result, it now needs to raise £250,000 by 31 March, or it will shut:

The aim is to achieve three things: clear our debts, cover current costs, and give the new Editor-in-Chief and his team time to build new funding relationships for 2014 onwards. Our target £250,000 will secure a new firm footing for openDemocracy.

Magnus Nome, openDemocracy's editor in chief, told me:

We offer a space that isn't available any other way, allowing experts and fresh voices from the ground the chance to present high-quality writing and analysis without being bound by the requirements of the corporate media.

It's impossible to get paid for content on the internet, so we depend on those who appreciate what we do and share our belief that it's an important thing. We have now raised £215,000 out of the £250,000 we need, and we believe that shows that others agree with us.

That still leaves another £35,000 to go. Donations can be made on its site, and the educational charity which supports it, openTrust, can accept gift aid on those donations as well.

"The crises of the epoch of market globalisation demand a world view that guards the gains of openness, human rights and democracy against a rising threat of neo-fascism and fundamentalisms," argue the team; openDemocracy is a much-needed organisation, and it can't be allowed to fall underwater now.

Getty
Show Hide image

How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

0800 7318496