“Even Dogs Have Dignity”

25 May is Africa Day, the commemoration of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963. The Centre for Conflict Resolution marked this with a colloquium on xenophobic violence, a vortex of media attention, dismay and condemnation since King Goodwill Zwelithini is reported to have said that foreigners in South Africa should “pack their bags and leave”.

The last time that violent attacks in African migrants in South Africa caused a media storm was in May 2008, when about 100 000 people had to leave their homes, many seeing out the rest of the winter in internal displacement camps. It has been widely assumed that migrant and refugee communities have been for the most part left alone over the intervening seven years. But this has not been the case.

At the Centre for Conflict Resolution’s Cape Town colloquium Roni Amit summarized the African Centre for Migration and Society’s data, derived from the work of a range of NGOs as well as the South African Government’s statistical agency. 62 people were killed in the attacks and riots in the winter of 2008. Since then, 350 foreign nationals have been murdered, an average of four every month. There has been one prosecution.

There have been persistent warnings of danger ahead. For example, Khadija Patel wrote a perceptive analysis in May 2013, following attacks on foreign-owned stores in Diepsloot. Patel’s article anticipated the far wider outbreak of violence two years later. Despite this and similar intelligence, in has been claimed that the current crisis is spontaneous and could not have been anticipated. The raids now being carried out by the police and army – Operation Fiela – are part of an emerging official consensus that the underlying cause of xenophobic violence is criminal activity by illegal immigrants.

Epherem Meskele from Durban’s Ethiopian community, also speaking at the Cape Town colloquium, witnessed and experienced violent attacks months before Zwelithini’s contentious speech. He knew five fellow shopkeepers who were burned alive in their premises. And he reported that violence has continued despite its widespread condemnation. Shortly before the Cape Town symposium Meskele had been called to help a relative under attack. He found the police at the shop, but not prepared to intervene. Meskele summarises his and his fellow Ethiopians’ position: “even dogs have dignity”.

Meskele’s experience of being dehumanized – of being treated as “less than a dog” – chimes with Catherine Musuva’s research into the attitudes of officials regulating residence and asylum claims. Musava interviewed both migrants and officials at the City of Cape Town and at central government departments. She found recourse to procedures outside the law and the requirements of the Constitution, creating a hierarchy of respect for a person’s rights irrespective of their formal entitlements. Musava uses Giorgio Agamben’s concept of a “state of exception” to describe this shadow land; a place where migrants and asylum seekers must survive in a “condition of bare life”, and where violent attacks and theft are condoned.

Public perceptions of the extent of immigration are often wide of the mark. In the UK, for example, surveys by Ipsos-MORI indicate that most people currently believe that net migration is at 31%; the actual proportion is a third of this. And in 1978, when net migration to Britain was zero, 70% of those polled agreed with the statement that they were in danger of “being swamped” by other cultures. Similarly in South Africa. Media reports either over-state the numbers of foreign nationals in the country or else fail to report the statistical evidence.

Roni Amit summarizes the overall profile. Foreign nationals make up between 3% and 4% of the overall population in South Africa. This allows for undocumented migrants and includes all levels of skills, from all parts of the world. The unemployment level in South Africa is high and rising, at upwards of 25% depending on which measure is used. About 4% of those who are unemployed are not South African citizens. Foreign nationals are often portrayed as criminals, particularly in justification of Operation Fiela. There is currently no empirical evidence for this assertion; foreign nationals make up 4% of the prison population. Amit’s overall point is that unemployment and crime figures for foreign nationals are much the same as their representation in the population as a whole. Immigration in South Africa is a 4% issue. In comparison, the proportion of the population who are foreign nationals is 8% for Britain, 6% for France and 9% for Germany.

There are frequent incidents of discrimination based on race, ethnicity or nationality in Britain, France, Germany and many other countries. Sometimes these escalate; the urban riots across British cities in August 2011; riots in Paris last year. But in South Africa, the extent and intensity of person-on-person violence has been intense and visceral, caught in the now-iconic Sunday Times front-page photographs of a Mozambican being knifed to death in Johannesburg.

Amit argues that, rather than being spontaneous flare-ups ignited by intolerable influxes of foreigners and criminality, the reasons for attacks on migrants and refugees from other parts of Africa are to be found in local economic and political circumstances. These are the micro-politics of the local state; municipal administrations, schooling, service delivery and housing along with township retailing and the pricing of basic household needs.

One way of looking at this, Amit says, is that inward mobility may be a cause in itself, whoever is involved. She makes the point that the statistics for violence against foreign nationals need to be considered along with the extent of violence by South Africans against other South Africans; that inward mobility may be a local threat wherever the migrants are from.

South Africa’s economy was built on migrant labour from the apartheid homelands and neighbouring states, to the mines and into the cities. These structural factors continue to define key opportunities today, whether these are being sought or defended. For example, the University of Johannesburg’s interviews with miners following the Marikana killings of August 2012 show the tight and essential relationship between access to work and economic survival at a home many hours away. Life at the margins of an economy structured around the movement of people and the defence of established interests may be all the more subject to violence.

Amit argues that these threats are accentuated when local government is weak or perceived as illegitimate, and where local political interests see advantage in scapegoating foreigners. In these circumstances, she says, local communities feel justified in asserting their own rights and may do so violently. Here, Amit’s analysis aligns with Musuva’s use of Agamben’s political theory. In defending their interests at the margins of the economy local communities, like state officials, also create a “state of exception” in which foreigners are seen as living in “bare life” and as legitimate targets for expulsion, for machete attacks, or for burning alive.

People who have sought asylum and who have experienced these attacks often point to the contradiction with South Africa’s often-repeated claim to be an exemplar of democracy and human rights; disappointment captured in Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s statement that xenophobic violence has reduced the rainbow nation to a grubby wreck. But representatives from migrant communities are careful to make the point that, while deploring the violence meted out to them in South Africa, conditions may be far worse at home.

At the CCR symposium Mohamed Osman, for the Somali Association of South Africa, described his own experiences of the last decade, from the xenophobic violence of 2008 through until this year. Somalis living in South Africa must, Osman says, be ready to move to other areas when local conditions become impossible. But Osman also makes the point that were he to be on an equivalent platform in Mogadishu he would likely be arrested, tortured and killed. While abhorring what is happening in South Africa, Osman also celebrates his comparative freedom.

The Centre for Conflict Resolution’s Africa Day symposium made it clear that there is no quick and clear solution for xenophobia, or for associated violence more generally. Roni Amit’s diagnosis is convincing, but the problems of governance and delivery at the municipal level are extensive and daunting. And disruption and violence continues to escalate at the origins of migrants’ journeys across Africa. The effects of endemic crises in Somalia and Ethiopia, and also in other sub-Saharan countries, travel to South Africa or north to the Mediterranean and the refugee crisis currently facing the European Union.

Because these continental-level problems are so difficult, Epherem Meskele’s repeated call for local integration strategies rings true. The everyday reality of Meskele and other Ethiopians living in Durban’s townships is to be treated as less than human by fellow residents. In the terms of Agamben’s political theory, this is to be in a “state of exception”, to be living “in bare life”. In Meskele’s terms, it is to be less regarded than a dog. Meskele wants programmes that inform and educate on both sides, which build in methods that can identify and attempt to resolve conflicts before they lead to a knifing, or to burning a shopkeeper alive in his shop.

Responses that centre on education and conflict resolution will not redress the primary economic and political causes of xenophobia and violence. But some of those living through this maelstrom believe that integration strategies can make a difference, and ask that their voices be heard.


Centre for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town: Tackling the Scourge of Xenophobia in South Africa. Monday 25 May 2015.


Roni Amit, Senior Researcher, African Centre for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand , Johannesburg

Epherem Meskele, Member of the Ethiopian Community, Durban

Catherine Musuva, Independent Researcher, Stellenbosch

Mohamed Osman, Western Cape Spokesperson, Somali Association of South Africa , Cape Town


African Centre for Migration and Society: http://www.migration.org.za/

Alexander, Peter, Thapelo Lekgowa and Botsang Mmope, 2013.   Marikana: A view from the mountain and a case to answer. Johannesburg, Jacana

Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, 17 April 2015: “Xenophobia reflects the state of South Africa’s callousness and poverty”. http://www.tutu.org.za/xenophobia-reflects-the-state-of-south-africas-callousness-and-poverty

Eurostat 2014: Migration and migrant population statistics. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Migration_and_migrant_population_statistics

Ipsos-MORI 2014. “Perceptions and Reality: ten things we should know about attitudes to immigration in the UK”. https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Publications/sri-perceptions-and-reality-immigration-report-summary-2013.pdf

Khadija Patel, 28 May 2013: “Analysis: The ugly truth behind SA’s xenophobic violence”. Daily Maverick http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-05-28-analysis-the-ugly-truth-behind-sas-xenophobic-violence/#.VWQKcJOqqko

Sunday Times 2015. “The brutal death of Emmanuel Sithole”. 19 April 2015. http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2015/04/19/the-brutal-death-of-emmanuel-sithole1

Vourlias, Christopher 25 April 2015. “After xenophobic attacks, S. African government blasted for tardy response” Aljazeera: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/4/25/after-xenophobic-attacks-s-african-government-blasted-for-tardy-response.html

Learning Analytics

We learn in different ways. Some of us skim read, jump in an out of books, and extract bits and pieces that are useful. Some of us read carefully and sequentially, building our understanding of one text on another. Prior experience, good and bad, will affect how we tackle a new task. Some of us find numbers easy; others dread them. There are solitary learners and gregarious communicators. Good teachers understand these differences of style, often intuitively, through empathy. Think hard enough, and we can always remember a particular teacher, hopefully for the good they did, but all to often for the bad.

Thoughtful teachers have always thought about how their students learn. When Mrs. Berry was thinking about my problems with spelling rather more than fifty years ago, and frowning about my progress in comparison with the rest of her primary school class, she was conducting learner analytics. Mrs. Berry’s tools were a red pen and a ledger; today’s are a keyboard and a spreadsheet. The objectives are the same.

The last few years’ leaps and bounds in digital technologies have revolutionized the potential in learner analytics. Education has always generated huge amounts of data. A university student registering for a semester-long module brings a sack of personal information through the door. There could then be ten to twenty assessment events; class tests, essays, projects and anything else that deserves a comment or a mark. Multiply this by the number of students in the class and then by the enrollment for the college or university as a whole and that’s a lot of data. Up until now a small fraction of this information has been used, almost always for formal assessment purposes. Most has remained passive and on-record, in case of some procedural imperative, rather like the requirement to keep personal tax documentation for a minimum of five years. But new digital technologies allow it all to be analyzed in real time, almost instantaneously and in any combination.

The real issue is not about getting access to learners’ data (although is still some work to be done in this area); it’s about what to do with it. As Christine Borgman has shown in her new book, “little data” are far more interesting and significant than “big data”. There would be little value – other than setting a world record – in having the digital learning profile of every student in the world on a common database. Of much greater value would be general agreement about key proxies for student learning success and the use of these to improve the quality of teaching.

Currently, the most widespread use of learning analytics is for helping prospective students make choices about programmes of study and universities, and for enabling funding agencies to keep track of public money. But many universities – and probably a majority – are beginning to use their own students’ data far more prospectively, and particularly for identifying students who may be at risk. Students leave a digital trace every time they log into their university’s Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard, Moodle and their equivalents), access a library resource, connect with an on-line course or, increasingly, come onto campus and use their student smart card to get into a room or buy something at the campus store. Failure to do any of these things for a period of time can put up a flag for a tutor to e-mail, text or call to find out if assistance is needed. These interventions can result in sharp improvements in student retention, particularly for those in their first year of study who may be finding adjustment difficult.

This, though, is really only a beginning, a toe in the edge of the digital lake. As electronic resources become more sophisticated – more than a scanned copy dumped on-line as a pdf – readers will leave digital fingerprints as they page through texts and data sets. These will augment Internet browsing histories (and we all know that Google already knows more than we know they know). This will allow teaching styles to be adapted to students’ differing cognitive patterns. Knewton’s Jose Ferreira makes the point that most current applications are “just decision trees using if-then rules to herd students in pre-determined directions … lump students together in large buckets”. Future approaches will rather see each student’s path emerge in real time.

In the seconds before recommending a learning activity, Knewton takes into account – using real data – all of your proficiencies, learning patterns and past performance. We then recalibrate our understanding of exactly what you know, how well you know it, and how you learn it best. Then we examine the content and strategies that worked best for other similar students – using the combined data power of our entire network to find your best possible learning path for every concept you study.

To be really useful, an individual’s learning progress has to be benchmarked against her or his student cohort, however that is understood. As is now well understood from digital data issues more generally, this raises key issues of public interest and trust. Many people are queasy about their personal health records being pooled, despite the compelling argument that large medical databases are critical for epidemiological breakthroughs that will be to the significant benefit of everyone. There has been less public debate about educational records despite the fact that, in many countries, there is a strong correlation between the place where you live and your prospects at and beyond university.

Used inappropriately, educational profiling could be as damaging to individual rights as health profiling. Given this, should we worry about a future in which large educational data sets are owned and used by for-profit companies? Some large publishers are diversifying their business models so that they can provide, often at significant fees, layers of educational services that may include examination and student assessment and learning analytics. Is it appropriate that such companies own learner datasets, or should they continue to be owned by independent, public interest organizations such as Britain’s Universities and College Admissions Service (UCAS) or the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)?

The use of learning analytics for prospective purposes, and also depositing individual student records into databases for benchmarking purposes, raises ethical issues at the individual’s level. Should students be asked to give informed consent for such use of their personal data? Should their participation in analytical exercises be on an opt-in or an opt-out basis? Should the surrender of personal data simply be a requirement for taking up a university place (as, in effect, it is at present), or does the potential for pooling student data outside the control systems and custodianship of the student’s university add a new ethical and legal dimension? While these may turn out to be non-issues, they are still questions that should be asked, and answered.

There is also a lot of work ahead in agreeing on metadata standards for learning analytics. Again, Borgman is fascinating – almost philosophical – about the conceptual implications of metadata. Terminology and classification are the battleground of the disciplines, the markers of differing theoretical positions. But without broad agreements on metadata, there can be little interoperability between data sets, limiting both the retrospective and predictive value of benchmarking. Here, universities may talk with a forked tongue. While they will espouse the principles of open data and public interest, they are all committed to the statistical challenge of being in the top 10% and inherently suspicious of comparisons unless they are sure that they will come out on top. Consequently, guarantees of anonymity as a watertight condition of data sharing will be as important for institutions as for individuals.

There’s little point in data for its own sake and the bureaucratization of universities has been relentless. Consequently, the motivation for learning analytics should be clear; to help students achieve their objectives more effectively and to help teachers guide learners with improved insight. There is a vast amount of grassroots innovation at course level and significant new opportunities for universities as a whole, and in trans-institutional co-operation. Getting this right should be well worth the effort.


Christine Borgman, 2015. Big Data, Little Data, No Data. Scholarship in the Networked World. Cambridge, MIT Press

Jose Ferreira, 2015. ‘Predetermined Adaptivity’: A Contradiction in Terms. The Knewton Blog. 1 April 2015. http://www.knewton.com

A new conversation

We are drowning in information. One of the paradoxes of our digital world is that the more we read, look and listen, the less we know. This makes trusted sources all the important. The Conversation, which first launched in Australia in March 2011, meets this need. The Conversation is a collaboration that brings together academics and journalists to provide analysis and news that’s free to read, use and republish under a Creative Commons licence. The successful Australian pilot has been followed by a UK edition, in May 2013, the launch of a US edition based in Boston (October last year) and this month’s Africa edition, which premiered on May 7.

The Conversation’s founder and Editor-in-Chief, Andrew Jaspan, has set out a clear vision for a different approach to establishing trust in the sources of information that we all need to rely on. Here is a video clip:

Conversation Jaspan

For TC’s newest edition this vision is alive and well. Ozyar Patel, Energy and Environment Editor in Johannesburg, told me that he now has the opportunity to work with some of South Africa’s top class journalists and editors.  “It’s an exciting project allowing me to do work that is unique and thrilling at the same time. A challenge which I’m relishing”.

Caroline Southey, Editor of The Conversation Africa, sees this as an exciting and inspirational model that is revitalising  journalism. “It’s beauty is in its simplicity: academics share their knowledge and journalists apply their skills to turn complex issues into accessible and interesting stories”. TC Africa is based in Johannesburg, and plans to open offices in West and East Africa as well, to provide a continent-wide perspective.

One – significant – implication of the digital deluge is that a lot of information is misinformation: snippets out of context, edits and re-edits, stuff that’s been pinched without permission, spam, on-line harassment and on downwards to the purely criminal. The boundary between the dark web and the virtuous virtual is never clear-cut. This is why trusted platforms are so important – we need sources that we can rely on.

The Conversation’s partnership model works for both academics and for journalists. For academics, it’s a way of reasserting the public value of research and of the role that universities have always played in creating and disseminating new knowledge. For journalists, it’s an opportunity to reassert the values of the profession. All authors and journalists sign up to an Editorial Charter and follow a Community Standards Policy. Thabo Leshilo, Politics and Society Editor for The Conversation Africa: “I believe the duty of journalism is to inform society. The Conversation is about high quality, meaningful journalism for the public. That’s hugely attractive proposition”.

The Conversation family now has a very large global readership, with links to stories distributed and redistributed through social media, and extensively republished. For academic authors and their universities this is good news; academic life and universities’ reputations are driven by citation and recognition of value. Scholarship is the original, medieval, world wide web; scholars write to be read and they recognize good work through citations. Today’s academics are most successful when they give away their intellectual property in return for public acknowledgement of their contribution. This is why The Conversation is founded on the principles of open access and will never put its stories behind a paywall.

Getting back to these primary values of academic work and journalism is invigorating. TC Africa’s Education Editor, Natasha Joseph, has previous experience of newsrooms and print journalism. She points out that newsrooms do not employ beat writers very often any more, and it’s rare to find journalists who can properly engage with the science they’re writing about. “The Conversation is such a breath of fresh idea in a time when the public or lay spaces for good research are shrinking”. Her colleague Candice Baily, who looks after Health and Medicine, says that “providing this platform for academics, simplifying and translating their work, is a completely novel idea within the South African and African media scene”. It’s also proved to be innovative in The Conversation’s newsrooms in Australia, the UK and the US.

For academics, this new way of disseminating information can be addictive. This is because the analytical data that rapidly accumulate from the moment a story is published shows where, and how frequently, a posting is being read. For the first time the “invisible colleges” that have connected scholarship since the Royal Society was founded in the seventeenth century are becoming visible. These statistics are proxies for the reach and influence of new knowledge – rather like a global weather map of influence. Coupled with effective writing partnerships with professional journalists, this gives a new edge to research. Janet Viljoen, Department of Human Kinetics and Ergonomics at Rhodes University, has been an early contributor to the Africa edition:

Often, we as scientists are sceptical of journalists, as we fear that our work may be wholly misinterpreted and the wrong message purveyed: not in this case – The Conversation Africa’s editor took my work and expertly crafted it into an article. I guess that’s why we are scientists and journos are journos! Such an easy process from suggestion of the article to completion – only a matter of days with excellent editing. Also the platform for submitting, editing and accepting the final draft before publication is easy to use and gives the author a lot of control over the final product.

The Conversation Africa’s first Foundation Essay was on immigration and migration and was contributed by Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalization and Development at the University of Oxford:

Without immigration from Africa, none of us would be here. Experts now believe that migration across Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago saved homo sapiens from climate-induced extinction. The migration of these early Africans into the Middle East, then across the Mediterranean into Europe and Asia – and eventually into the Americas and Australia and the Pacific Islands – is the origin of today’s humanity. It will be our attitudes to the continuing movement of people that will define our national and collective futures.

Given Africa’s formative role in our world, it’s more than appropriate that this new Conversation has been launched.


The Conversation Africa: https://theconversation.com/africa

Ian Goldin: “Without immigrants, none of us would be here”. The Cionversation Africa, 7 May 2015. https://theconversation.com/without-immigrants-none-of-us-would-be-here-41093

The desire lines of educational opportunity

Whatever the outcome of today’s election in Britain, neither major party has much to say about universities.

For the Conservatives it’s a continuation of the past five years, despite a general consensus that the present student loan scheme is unsustainable. For Labour, it’s a focus on post-16 vocational education and new Institutes of Technical Education; universities warrant barely a mention.

More than half a million new students are admitted to British universities each year and there is a national obsession with relative status and ranking. As Nick Clegg found when he reneged on his party’s commitment to lower student fees, Higher Education is in the Too Difficult box for an election manifesto. This, though, is another way of ensuring off-manifesto freedom to do difficult things if landed with the responsibilities of power.

Vocational education is of course important, and both apprenticeship schemes and vocational qualifications are a mess. Hillary Steedman, Senior Research Associate at the LSE, points out that the baseline for the Conservative proposals is still the Wolf Review of Vocational Education, now more than five years old. This showed that low-level vocational qualifications have little value in the job market – five years of subsequent government has not cracked this problem.

This is exacerbated by the diversion by employers of subsidized apprenticeships in order to train older workers already in employment; young school leavers are still left in the lurch. The Labour manifesto takes a bet on new Institutes of Technical Education as an alternative the A-levels and university. No detail is provided, but there is a clear similarity to the present University Technical Colleges.

The problem, though, is the disparity between principle and behaviour. While many will profess parity of esteem between vocational and academic education, few parents or employers walk the walk: vocational education is right for other people’s kids; vocational qualifications are fine for someone else’s business.

What’s missing here is a sense of the pathways that have already been cut through the thickets of policy confusion. These are what architects would call “desire lines” – the determination to follow the best route, irrespective of fences and signs to keep off the grass.

Already, about half of all students admitted to British universities have qualifications other than A-levels. Some Further Education Colleges offer university-level qualifications; many successfully prepare their learners for application to university; others have entered into valuable partnerships with universities. More imaginative and progressive political leadership – from any party – would see that the primary need across all forms of post-compulsory education is for simplification and integration. Listen, and learn from the desire lines that mark out successful trajectories of attainment.

Here, research from the United States is suggestive. In the US there is a conceptual articulation between post-compulsory opportunities in public education. Although comparatively few students make the transition, there are clear progression routes from two-year Community Colleges and into universities offering four-year degree programmes. This allows the differing experiences of cohorts of students to be tracked and analysed. Because numbers are large and the data good, there is a statistical reliability in such research, which provides a good test of the efficacy of existing policies and of political assertions. There are now many large studies of this kind and they have a good deal of relevance for other national education systems, despite the particularities of the US model.

A recent research report from the National Bureau for Economic Research focuses on the point of articulation between two-year Community College and four-year university programmes. The starting point for the study is the policy problem of low completion rates that has “prompted debate over the extent to which the problem is attributable to the students or to their choice of colleges”. David Leonhardt, writing for the New York Times:

How much money should taxpayers spend subsidizing higher education? How willing should students be to take on college debt? How hard should Washington and state governments push colleges to lift their graduation rates? All of these questions depend on whether a large number of at-risk students are really capable of completing a four-year degree.

A version of this debate exists in many national contexts – “is university for everyone?” The assumption that too many people already go to university is inherent in both the Conservative and the Labour policy positions; the skeleton in the cupboard is whether, at the margins of admissions decisions, the key factor can be a pure measure of ability or if socioeconomic circumstances have a role. The NBER study addresses this question.

The NBER report uses data from the state of Georgia’s four-year public college sector. Here, there is a mandatory minimum SAT score for admission. This allowed the researchers to compare the subsequent outcomes for those students just below the cut-off with those just above. The results showed, with appropriate levels of statistical confidence, that about half of the applicants who just made it over the line went on to complete their four-year degrees in the more selective state university, in comparison with less than a fifth who just missed the SAT cut-off and instead enrolled in a less selective university. In particular, this consequence was more marked for low-income students.

The message from this study for policy makers is that it is worth investing at the margins of admissions in order to improve student success rates. This is good both for individuals, who are able to fulfil their aspirations, and for public investment, because drop out rates are reduced and the overall qualification level of the workforce is improved.

The NBER’s work suggests that, in the British context, it would be well-worth looking at the fortunes of students at the interface between Further and Higher Education and at progressive innovations, where these exist, that go against the grain in joining up the post-16 pathways.

Sadly, there is no evidence for such an interest in either of the major party’s visions for the next five years.


Joshua Goodman, Michael Hurwitz and Jonathan Smith: :College access, initial college choice and degree completion”. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 20996, February 2015: http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/joshuagoodman/files/collegetypequality.pdf

David Leonhardt: “College for the masses”. New York Times, 24 April 2015

Hilary Steedman: “Conservatives fudge the numbers on apprenticeships”. The Conversation, 4 May 2015.   https://theconversation.com/manifesto-check-conservatives-fudge-t