Monday, 9 April 2012

Refugees – are they freeloaders?

How often are we told on the doorstep that refugees have a cushy time? That they are living a life of luxury on benefits and sponging off this country?

Let’s start with the fact that asylum seekers with outstanding applications are not allowed to work in the UK – and our asylum decisions can take years.

The level of benefits they get is derisory even compared to the low levels that are paid out to UK residents. This means that many refugee families are living below the official ‘extreme poverty’ level. For example a UK family with a four year old child on income support would get £186 a week in benefits. Not a princely sum, but just above the ‘severe poverty’ level. An asylum seeking family with the same configuration would only get £125 per week - £66 below the severe poverty line. 

Read the excellent Guardian article on this in full on line at:

Reading writing and 'rithmatic

I am just back from the Association of Law Teachers Annual Conference in Oxford. The main theme of the conference was the Legal Education and Training review. During the conference a panel of legal employers were lamenting the parlorous state of the communication skills of Law graduates – and they get the best of the crop! 

Even after three years of a law degree and postgraduate professional training, law graduates still cannot write proper English. The infamous grocers' apostrophe was mentioned along with a lack of awareness of the appropriate writing style for different types of written communication. A solicitor mentioned new recruits who believe that legal drafting is a ‘higher form of academia’ and write briefs and letters to clients as if they were writing academic essays.

None of the potential employers blamed the universities they were all conscious that the rot starts much earlier in schools. My employer certainly offers Legal Academic Writing Skills to all our students but it is only compulsory in the first year: after that it is voluntary. Guess who doesn’t turn up? The ones who need it most.

And that is despite us handing our their coursework feedback in those sessions to try and encourage (coerce) them to attend.