Forever Blowing Bubbles, 2.0: UK Property Surge ‘Replaces Productive Economy’!

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Oil Be Blowed: Boko Haram Highlights Crisis in Nigerian Education System


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Testing, Testing, 1-2-3: Mediolana ‘Now Accepting Product Testing CVs’!

Exciting news here at Mediolana: we’re in the market for product testers. The following ad has been plastered over more recruitment-type avenues than anyone sane can really stand - and the response has been just this side of phenomenal - but in case any of our loyal readers are interested in this unique opportunity to be at the cutting edge of education, we’re reproducing it verbatim:

Calling All Swots!

We are looking for product testers for a new educational product.

  • Testing will take place over one afternoon in April/May 2014 in Central London;
  • High academic achievers especially welcome to apply;
  • Product testers will be paid.  

If you are interested in this opportunity, please send your CV together with a recent photo to hr [at] by 25th April 2014. Thank you!


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Teaching the Rest of the World: Three Ways in Which Education Can Help Italy Prosper

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 12.52.39The March 2014 edition of Monocle magazine is a single-country special devoted to Italy, a member of the G7 which despite suffering considerably from the eurozone crisis is probably – at least, after Germany – the most substantial Western European country most likely to emerge from the maelstrom with something resembling an economy. As Monocle underlines, Italy is still a world leader in sectors from fashion to industrial goods.

But much more can and should be done to ensure that a generation of young Italians are not turned into economic refugees: according to Giorgia Orlandi, a news producer for the Italian state broadcaster RAI, nearly 400,000 graduates have left Italy in the last decade; only 50,000 similarly qualified foreign nationals have arrived in their stead. There is now a serious national debate within the boot-shaped peninsula about the best way forward: one NGO, Io voglio restare, is campaigning on the slogan ‘Changing the country is better than changing countries.’

What follows are three ways in which education can help create a better Italy – all of them cost-efficient and mostly making use of existing resources:

  1. Export Higher Education (1). Italian universities may not be massively famous in the Anglosphere, but by European and global standards many of them are high-quality institutions which rank well in the relevant indices. The SDA Bocconi School of Management – one of Europe’s best business schools – has recently opened MISB Bocconi, a branch campus in Mumbai, but Italian higher education titans have been slow to grasp the opportunities available to them from internationalising their brands.
  2. Export Higher Education (2). With much of the Italian immigration debate centring on (the refutation of) wild stereotypes and fantastical figures, the sobering reality is that Italy is not regarded by most highly-qualified people worldwide as a country they see a professional future in; indeed, Italy is confronting a demographic crunch. One way to change this is to put resources into recruiting the best and brightest from around the world to study in Italy, and give them an automatic post-degree two-year right of residency. Forming a specific agency to do this would be an excellent initiative.
  3. Export Higher Education (3). Italy is a society of tremendous regional variation, but the biggest geographical cleavage by far in Italian society is between the affluent, industrialised north and a south dominated by agriculture and tourism. However, in a world of deep globalisation it is clear that the south can use its traditional strengths to great advantage, codifying its knowledge in these areas for tuition worldwide. An Neapolitan equivalent for pizza of the Gelato University – an ice-cream-making institution located in Bologna which is opening a branch campus in Dubai – cannot be built soon enough.

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Show Me the Subsidy! M-Pesa, Vodafone and the Entrepreneurial State

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 13.21.52Scanning the back pages of London’s Financial Times is not something that we at Mediolana do nearly enough of, but a recent spare five minutes yielded exactly this activity – and in one respect at least we were genuinely shocked at what we found. And the surprise didn’t come in the news that Vodafone are planning to launch a version of M-Pesa – a mobile payments system that has proven phenomenally successful in Kenya and Tanzania – in Europe: as living standards continue to stagnate or decline in much of the eurozone and beyond, a new generation which is less tied into conventional financial structures such as the traditional bank account needs to be catered for.

The stupefaction came in the detail. M-Pesa originally began as a humble pilot project in 2006. The value of this project? A mere £2m – not bad for software than handles an estimated 33% of Kenya’s gross domestic product per month in SMS-ed cash. But what is arguably the bigger revelation is the fact that of that initial £2m, half of the investment was not put up by Vodafone, but contributed by the UK government’s Department for International Development (‘DFID’).

Of course, this sum of money was only the beginning: Vodafone and its East African subsidiary Safaricom have pumped in significant volumes of capital since to build up the M-Pesa network – as well as attempting to export the model to other emerging markets with varying levels of success. But the fact remains that without the DFID subsidy, M-Pesa as we know it today would have been nothing more than just another idea which never made it beyond the conceptual stage. As the inimitable Mariana Mazzucato copiously illustrates in her excellent and provocative thesis The Entrepreneurial State, there is a definite pattern of corporations riding off the coattails of government subsidy in ‘risky’ investment areas such as high technology: companies only allocate resources to sectors in which the state has already tested the water.

Yet as Vodafone prepares to roll out M-Pesa in the Old Continent, the urgency of reexamining the equity and expectations of this type of financial aid has perhaps never been greater. As the FT rhetorically poses: ‘…should taxpayers have shared in M-Pesa’s long-run upside…?’ Should citizens demand much, much more from both their governments and state agencies in determining exactly how their money is risked – and in securing an apposite financial return commensurate to the risk involved? And should there be a much greater reconceptualisation of the state as entrepreneur than has thus far been envisaged?

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All Over Ba the Shouting: Paris Retains Unwanted Status in European Club Football!

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Migration Watch Latest: Incoming Population ‘Might Know More Than You Think’!


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