So, to ask some foreigners

Is this true?

Our universities, the NHS and the BBC: three things that the rest of the world admires about Britain. It is no coincidence that all of them derive their values and ethics from outside the marketplace. If we want to ruin them, the quickest way is to bring in the values of finance and business – of profiteering from students, sweating academics and handing riches to the management.

Is this what is admired? Sorry, these three are?

I’ve lived most of my adult life abroad and I’ve most certainly heard people praise some parts of the university system – and not all of it, not by a long way. The BBC? Meh, other than parts of the World Service in repressive regimes not really. And no one, no one at all, I’ve met has said that they admire the NHS.

But to ask any foreigners who read here?

Something I have directly experienced though is our reputation for honesty. Not that it’s true or anything, but one day, when working in a country without any real rule of law or anything, I sealed a $300,000 deal on a handshake. The seller would be entirely and wholly at risk for the full amount for about two weeks as the export was made, arrived, checked, then paid for. No letter of credit, no bank guarantee. Just my handshake. Because, as everyone knows, when an Englishman gives his word…..it worked with me for I just couldn’t let the side own if people really do believe that.

But that is my personal experience. Bowler hats and London busses and all that – old maids cycling to communion, warm beer. It just ain’t that trio Chakrabortty is blethering on about.

72 comments on “So, to ask some foreigners

  1. Our universities, the NHS and the BBC: three things that the rest of the world admires about Britain.

    Some universities, yes. Occasionally the BBC. The only time they mention the NHS is to say how awful it is.

    The Brits are good at building national myths on what foreigners admire about them. I wrote about this here.

  2. Something I have directly experienced though is our reputation for honesty.

    Enjoy it while it lasts. In another generation we’ll be a low-trust society.

  3. I’ve worked in a quite a few countries around the world with usually well informed and often well travelled locals and certainly don’t recognise most of that claim:

    BBC – rarely mentioned. I suspect they mean by other journalists who are probably jealous of the salary and working conditions. In more repressed countries they’re more likely to be referring to freedom of speech and using the BBC because its all they really know.

    NHS – those that understand it think we’re mad. That’s not to say they don’t want some form of social health care, they get that its vulnerable to abuse and inefficiency. Its only respected by those who want to come here and free load. Having said that, I think there’s a bit of national pride in thinking their way is the best and nothing wrong with that, its why we think the NHS is the envy of the world.

    Universities – The top ones maybe, but a lot of the younger consultants I worked with had ambitions to go to the USA for post grad education.

    One area that is respected almost universally is our legal system for its honesty and transparency, which is why, unlike the other cases, it is copied and used quite extensively around the world when drawing up contracts.

  4. Like Tim N says we’re good at myth making. It a very easy generalisation to make while writing in the Guardian with no contact with academics. I’ve worked in Universities and the academics are not noble intellectuals doing a wonderful service for humanity. I’ve heard people on 6 figure salaries complain about being underpaid as “they could get a job in the City but they chose to do a vocation”. Strangely they never chase or get chased for those City jobs though. Then there’s Ritchie…

  5. “Enjoy it while it lasts. In another generation we’ll be a low-trust society.”

    It already is – the UK is still in the denial phase.

    Re. NHS – it seems to be admired by left-wing Americans who have imbibed of a bizarre fantasy version of it. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is blithely not copying it, and the European trend is towards more privatisation and more use of health insurance.

  6. More socialist fantasy bollocks.

    The Unis are Marxian indoctrination centres that need purging. And lots of them prob need closing as well–or instead of. Perhaps 10-15% of people might benefit from a decent–ie scientific, technical , non-Marxist Uni education. The rest are just wasting time and money following Bliar’s leftist indoctrination plans.

    The BBC was respected during WW2 and was a decent service up to about 1980 but the red shite injection has sent it steadily lower since then. It is now lower than whale shit and needs to be shut down for good in 24 hours flat.

    The NHS is socialistic bungling made corrupt flesh. The sooner it is gone the better but it will take time to properly roll-back the twisted national obsession that is supposed “free” health care.

    Chakrabotti(sic-and he is) is full of it. Just wish he’d stop trying to hand out his mental waste smeared across the sheets of a supposed newspaper.

  7. For me it’s integrity. On the whole Brits do what they say they are going to do. Oxford & Cambridge are much admired. Places like Exeter in the medical field are respected. Mainly a sense of fair play. I am not sure that the concept of sportsmanship is much understood other than in English speaking communities.
    The BBC & NHS?? Don’t make me laugh.

  8. Oxford, Cambridge, LSE and UCL maybe… potentially other Russell Group universities. Definitely not the NHS. I don’t know where the idea that it is the envy of the world comes from. No Europeans, South Americans, Chinese, Koreans or any other country I have worked with have ever suggested that. And I work in healthcare! I imagine most of the world were cringing as much as I was when it appeared in the London Olympics opening ceremony.

  9. Conversation between Davis & Barnier
    Mr Dave Davis is at the golf club returning his locker key when Mr Barnier, the membership secretary sees him.

    “Hello Mr Davis”, says Mr Barnier. “I’m sorry to hear you are no longer renewing your club membership, if you would like to come to my office we can settle your account”.
    “I have settled my bar bill” says Mr Davis.
    “Ah yes Mr Davis”, says Mr Barnier, “but there are other matters that need settlement.”

    In Mr Barniers office –
    Mr Davis explains that he has settled his bar bill so wonders what else he can possibly owe the Golf Club?

    “Well Mr Davis” begins Mr Barnier, “you did agree to buy one of our Club Jackets”.

    “Yes” agrees Mr Davis “I did agree to buy a jacket but I haven’t received it yet”. “As soon as you supply the jacket I will send you a cheque for the full amount”.

    “That will not be possible” explains Mr Barnier. “As you are no longer a club member you will not be entitled to buy one of our jackets”!

    “But you still want me to pay for it” exclaims Mr Davis.

    “Yes” says Mr Barnier, “That will be £500 for the jacket. “There is also your bar bill”.

    “But I’ve already settled my bar bill” says Mr Davis.

    “Yes” says Mr Barnier, “but as you can appreciate, we need to place our orders from the Brewery in advance to ensure our bar is properly stocked. You regularly used to spend at least £50 a week in the bar so we have placed orders with the brewery accordingly for the coming year”. “You therefore owe us £2600 for the year”.

    “Will you still allow me to have these drinks?” asks Mr Davis.
    “No of course not Mr Davis”. “You are no longer a club member!” says Mr Barnier.

    “Next is your restaurant bill” continues Mr Barnier. “In the same manner we have to make arrangements in advance with our catering suppliers.Your average restaurant bill was in the order of £300 a month, so we’ll require payment of £3600 for the next year”.
    “I don’t suppose you’ll be letting me have these meals either” asks Mr Davis.
    “No, of course not” says an irritated Mr Barnier, “you are no longer a club member!”

    “Then of course” Mr Barnier continues, “there are repairs to the clubhouse roof”
    “Clubhouse roof” exclaims Mr Davis, “What’s that got to do with me?”

    “Well, it still needs to be repaired and the builders are coming in next week, your share of the bill is £2000”.

    “I see” says Mr Davis, “anything else?”

    “Now you mention it” says Mr Barnier, “there is Fred the Barman’s pension. We would like you to pay £5 a week towards Fred’s pension when he retires next month”. “He’s not well you know so I doubt we’ll need to ask you for payment for longer than about five years, so £1300 should do it”.
    “This brings your total bill to £10,000” says Mr Barnier.
    “Let me get this straight” says Mr Davis, “you want me to pay £500 for a jacket you won’t let me have, £2600 for beverages you won’t let me drink and £3600 for food you won’t let me eat, all under a roof I won’t be allowed under and not served by a bloke who’s going to retire next month!”
    “Yes, it’s all perfectly clear and quite reasonable” says Mr Barnier.
    “Piss off!” says Mr Davis
    Now we understand what Brexit is all about!!!!!

  10. Actually, from what I’ve seen, the thing foreigners mention the most about Brits is our propensity to drink and fight and for the women to go out at night dressed like hookers.

  11. Lots of respect for TV series, I guess most people would assume that they’re made by the Beeb.

    English comedy is way up there. Monty Python for example. Funny that some things don’t translate though. Most foreigners don’t know that Dr House and Mr Bean used to work together 🙂

  12. The NHS is a miracle – given how large it is, it could do far worse. But admired? nah.

    The Monarchy in some places perhaps.

    British Public Schools – people think highly of the UK private education system.

  13. In my experience in Asia:

    NHS: No one really is aware of it. When told that it’s ‘free’ people in developing countries are amazed but they have no idea about the quality.

    BBC: To be fair the nature programs (funded separately I believe) are world class and quite popular all over the place. Some shows like Sherlock are also immensely popular and do a fab job for British soft power. No one watches BBC news or any of the low brow Saturday night shite. I even have a French friend who goes on about how much he loves BBC shows so if you can get a frog to say something nice about British culture you’re doing something ok.

    Universities: It’s a big deal to send your kids to a UK university and you see all sorts of advertisements for them. However, the US is where they really want to go. Although now more and more kids are getting degrees from the UK and US their value is becoming diluted.

    Generally the UK seems to be considered a ‘cool’, wealthy and reasonably powerful country although completely dwarfed in all that by the US.

    What the Guardian certainly won’t want to admit is that our biggest, most popular, cultural export is that ghastly Premier League football 🙂

  14. Having spent my entire career overseas and living and working with furriners and speaking furrin, I would say that when furriners talk or think about Britain it is with some admiration of the queen, andy macnab, London in general, football hooligans (not so much recently of course we’ve been knocked out of the first division by the Russians) and our remarkable stoicism about getting rained on.

    Nobody has ever mentioned to me how fantastic the BBC is or the NHS.

    Chakrabortty is a dick and of that typical class of despicable lefties who hate people. And live in a completed invented imaginary parallel universe and have no contact with reality. They used to talk about ivory towers, but these guardianistas are really a couple of levels higher up their own arses.

  15. Tim Newman – “Actually, from what I’ve seen, the thing foreigners mention the most about Brits is our propensity to drink and fight and for the women to go out at night dressed like hookers.”

    Pretty much – and what the BiDongguan said – having a British university degree is still a sign of status but only if it comes from a small handful of universities – Oxbridge, UCL, LSE, that’s about it.

    We imported people like Chakrabortty and so inevitably we will have the values of people like Chakrabortty. Which means we will have, I assume, India’s reputation for honesty and integrity. Yeah for us!

  16. ‘My word is my bond’ sort of thing is also a reflection of our legal system and judiciary. One of the best things about us. I can’t recall anyone ever mentioning the BBC, most certainly not the NHS, and most people I know did their post-grad the other side of the pond.

  17. As I work in exporting university services (research and education – it’s a job) I can say that UK universities have a decent reputation.

    Some parts of the NHS have a good reputation, in particular primary care (GPs basically). This is the bit that the Chinese are trying to replicate to stop everyone going to hospital for every little thing (cultural peculiarity apparently, although that suggests some of the not-great-to-live-on estates near me are actually Chinese…). It’s perhaps significant that it’s also the bit where doctors are not directly employed by the NHS. To be fair, the University-NHS interface around cancer gets good results (maybe not cost-effective though), and often in the sort of niche field where government intervention might be justified.

    BBC is popular in the Netherlands and Belgium for learning English (they don’t have licenses either – not sure how they got away with this under EU rules), but it seems only to be respected by educated Europeans who see it as a sort of cultural model to emulate (I can only assume Eastenders doesn’t make it across the North Sea). For those who are not of the benevolent state inclination, I don’t think there is much thought about it, although it is probably better quality than most networks around the world to be fair (I’d argue Channel 4 is better though – because it allows its biases and makes better programmes as a result, even if they infuritate me).

  18. Like others, I have lived and worked abroad fair bit. I would say that foreign people respect our Armed Forces, when they are allowed to fight, the rule of law, our (still extant) sense of good manners and fair play and our villages and pretty market towns. They don’t generally know the first thing about the NHS, and if they do know the first thing it is that it is “free”. If you explain to them that that comes at a price, pun intended, they are less keen. Oxford and Cambridge and one or two of the universities are well respected and the BBC is known about.

  19. “BBC is popular in the Netherlands and Belgium for learning English (they don’t have licenses either – not sure how they got away with this under EU rules), ”

    Netherlands does – it’s bundled with the cable fee so you don’t “see” it. But it’s there…

  20. I hang out on some American forums.

    They like a few BBC shows: Blue Planet and Dr Who mostly. They mistake Downton as BBC.

    NHS? They seem in favour of universal healthcare, but I’ve never heard the NHS mentioned much.

    Universities? Never heard mentioned.

  21. I used to work with a New Zealand citizen who was born in Hungary and had lived in Hong Kong. His wife gave birth in an NHS maternity ward and his comment was “It’s like the fucking third-world. We are never, EVER doing this with the NHS again”. Envy of the world and all that.

  22. In the USA the BBC has long been popular among, shall we call them, PBS viewers. Or it certainly used to be when US TV was pretty much at its worst, before HBO etc, and what decent programmes the networks did produce were rendered unwatchable by endless and frequent ads.

    There were a couple of factors which aided their perception.
    Firstly they only ever saw on PBS the kinds of BBC programmes they would probably like (for the same reason that arthouse film fans tended to think at all French films were arthouse). They weren’t exposed to the acres of mundane daily dross in between the “quality” stuff. That didn’t get exported. The only really commercial stuff which made it to the US Networks were the Lew Grade-type series at the height of British coolness. Series like The Saint, Danger Man, The Avengers and The Prisoner which were at the high end of their genres.

    Secondly they assumed that every half-decent UK production they liked was made by the BBC. If you tried to tell them that Inspector Morse or the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Homes series were made, and broadcast peak time, by the most rampantly commercial TV station in the country they wouldn’t believe you. They were convinced that Channel 4 was part of the BBC – even before BBC4 came along to complicate things further.

    Of course, the vast majority of US viewers rarely if ever watched a BBC programme but we never heard about them.

    As for the rest of the world, well it’s no surprise that the BBC had a reputation for quality among each countries middle and high-brow viewers given the local fare on offer. A drowning man doesn’t inspect a rescue ship too critically before gratefully climbing aboard.
    A number of foreign broadcasters have improved somewhat over recent years and produced higher quality stuff but I suspect that it’s mainly a response to a) improved US fare against which they have to compete (especially as it’s so available on download etc.) and b) the people who would once have made decent feature films finding it easier to do good work on TV than in the cinema.

  23. A view from a libertarian in Australia who lived and worked in London for 5 years.

    Many Australians love the BBC because most of its quality programming is shown on the ABC. This will change as pay tv carries BBC First and much BBC programming is carried on UK TV. One of my jobs in London was working on communications policy, advertising regulation and such. When I remind Australians that the BBC has a taxing arm that funds the BBC through a tv licence, they are quite bemused.

    I don’t think that the NHS is much admired in Australia as our own form of socialised medicine works pretty well with fairly good choice and outcomes. Queuing seems to be less of a problem. That said, there is little cost control and much waste. (If I were king of Health I’d start with a blank slate based on Singapore or John Cochrane’s model but anyone I say that to in either the UK or Australia thinks that I’m mad.)

    On universities – many Australians have stars in their eyes about higher degrees from Oxbridge or the US. Our universities are full of communists but the snowflake generation thing seems far smaller here than in either the US or the UK.

    One indicator is that there is still blanket coverage about some bloke getting engaged to some actor shiela.

  24. Living in London all of my European friends find it hilarious that anyone would be envious of the NHS.

    The police are seen as having a good attitude, they are amazed that you can walk up to a policeman and ask them directions, what is going on, etc and get a polite answer.

    At work, having experience of commercial litigation in many jurisdictions there are good reasons people specify UK (or New York) law as the governing law and forum for contracts.

  25. The police are seen as having a good attitude, they are amazed that you can walk up to a policeman and ask them directions, what is going on, etc and get a polite answer.

    That will change rapidly, and the quicker it does, the better. If the police were once our friends, they’re not now.

  26. Tim Newman

    “Enjoy it while it lasts. In another generation we’ll be a low-trust society.”

    That multiculturalism has worked out a treat hasn’t it?

  27. I have met European immigrants who still pay their insurance to their home system – that is a real vote of lack of confidence in the NHS.

  28. The great unspoken one is the private school system. The world loves and copies it.

    IMHO, that was the charm ingredient to the Harry Potter stories. Not the magic but the private school.

    BBC – true maybe 30-40 years ago. Not so much today.

    Universities – Oxbridge/Russell Group – yeah. Not sure anyone looks with envy on Manchester Met, with all due respect to them.

    Legal system is well respected but it has been pretty well replicated in Oz, NZ, Canada etc.

    Here is an odd one – sport. Played reasonable club cricket in Oz and England, and rugby at a very low level in both countries. Some years ago. In terms of sheer enjoyment, much better in England.

  29. In 1992 in Bratislava, a Pole who had lived there most of his adult life, told me of the hope that the BBC World Service gave him and his friends during the communist years. He said that the words “Volaar Londine” had the same emotional appeals to dissidents such as he as “Ici Londres” had had to the French Resistance during WW II.

  30. Foreigners have told me that they admire many things about the UK. Such as: the English choral tradition; Shakespeare & English literature; English theatre and actors; understatement; a genius for creating long-lived institutions; fair play and decency; the rule of law; TV documentaries and drama series; the Royal family, particularly HM the Queen; Oxford and Cambridge; medical research and bio-technology; CGI effects in film; landscapes; the history – eg Henry VIII, industrial revolution, castles and stately homes; the armed forces; police who are unarmed; the elite public schools; the sense of humour…etc, etc

    Things they tend to dislike include public drunkenness and yobbery; the lower classes generally; the weather; the food; obesity; fat slags; density of traffic; the number of immigrants; our tabloid newspapers…

  31. “What the Guardian certainly won’t want to admit is that our biggest, most popular, cultural export is that ghastly Premier League football ”

    Very true. Travel the world and you’ll see Premier League shirts everywhere, and not on tourists either.

  32. “BBC – true maybe 30-40 years ago. Not so much today”

    It’s an embarrassment, considering how much money they have. You turn it on, you’ve seen it all before. Even their “quality” dramas are turgid and middlebrow. Small fortunes spent on production design and cast, but pedestrian writing and directing.

    The last 2 good things were Horrible Histories and Top Gear and I’ve seen nothing of that standard since.

  33. Certainly get some input on Brit customers. Universally popular. Polite, considerate, reliable, clean, generous… Spanish? Best not to mention the Spanish.

  34. In 1992 in Bratislava, a Pole who had lived there most of his adult life, told me of the hope that the BBC World Service gave him and his friends during the communist years.

    These days he’d tune into the BBC if he was nostalgic for hard-left state propaganda.

  35. It just ain’t that trio Chakrabortty is blethering on about.

    There’s the rub.

    Chakrabortty has shallow roots in Britain, and is about as English as a six-armed elephant god.

    Are we surprised that ersatz Brits would like to redefine Britishness to mean impersonal institutions, rather than a specific community of people with common culture and history?

  36. The great Dongguan John

    ‘What the Guardian certainly won’t want to admit is that our biggest, most popular, cultural export is that ghastly Premier League football ‘

    Absolutely spot on – but putting that would spoil Aditya’s Point somewhat….

    The also excellent ‘Bloke in Italy’

    ‘Chakrabortty is a dick and of that typical class of despicable lefties who hate people. And live in a completed invented imaginary parallel universe and have no contact with reality. They used to talk about ivory towers, but these guardianistas are really a couple of levels higher up their own arses.’

    I am reminded of two quotes from the film ‘Demolition Man’ which I applied to Alastair Campbell the other day but they could just as easily be applied to the very accurate description of Chakrabortty and his ilk:

    ‘He’s evil in a way you’ve only read about’

    ‘He’s a criminal the likes of which you have never seen’

  37. Re: UK universities. Oxbridge is very prestigious, natch, but the Indians I’ve worked with tell me the USA is the number one choice for wealthy, smart Indian students. Britain is very much a fallback option.

  38. Perhaps the most outstanding British characteristic is that a foreigner like Chakrabortty can continually criticise the country that hosts him & remain unscathed.
    Of course, whether that’s a favourable characteristic or not could stand some exploration.

  39. BiS – I wonder if there’s an Indian version of the Guardian where a guy called Adam Chapman constantly lectures his fellow citizens about how crap their country is.

  40. that was the charm ingredient to the Harry Potter stories.

    Nah, the real charm of Harry Potter is the same as Star Wars or Oliver Twist: the idea that a child born to noble blood (magic blood, Jedi blood) will rise to the top by sheer virtue of his bloodline.

    Posh people like it because it justifies their poshness; and the rest of us like it because it justifies our laziness (no point working hard if we aren’t of noble blood).

  41. Our universities, the NHS and the BBC: three things that the rest of the world admires about Britain.

    Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha…. Good one.

    Your museums? Yes. The Premier League? Certainly. The rest? Not so much.

  42. One thing that is big in Japan is the Mini, both original and BMW modern version (IIRC the main reason the original wasn’t discontinued in the 80’s was due to demand from Japan.

    Students of mine often mention they like our accents over America ones, and many visit because they like the history and culture.

    Finally, I have been surprised how many kids say they like One Direction!

  43. I can echo a lot of these comments. My late missus was Austrian/Italian and lived many years in the UK so saw a lot at first hand.

    NHS – bunch of butchers, apart from immediate needs always went to Vienna for treatment.

    BBC – liked Newsnight with Paxman and sitcoms, we would shout at Today and listen to the 6.30 radio4 comedies. Luckily she has not seen how badly they have sunk in quality She couldn’t understand Terry Wogan (either him or his appeal). There is an eye-watering TV licence in Austria, so she thought that we were getting off lightly. She was impressed but bemused by Radio5’s sport coverage and loved the fact that we still had signature tunes like Out of the Blue for Sports Report.

    She was transfixed by, but didn’t really understand rugby and cricket.

    Unis – had no opinion, but impressed that lads from Bash Street School like me could get degrees. She knew and liked St Andrews quite well.

    She liked British fair play and our sensible legal system, law of contract and consumer protection ( many Austrian and German companies, especially banks really take the piss).

    She abhorred the British working class, their drinking and the associated crime ( she had her car broken into twice). I would have to drive her into london for concerts or the theatre ( impossible today as there’s nowhere to park) so as to avoid mixing with the late night hoi polloi. Alas Vienna over the last few years has gone the same way, with east Europeans responsible for most crime and disorder.

    She considered Blair, Brown, Cameron and Clegg as devils incarnate, they were archetypes of the kind of continental politician from whom she had hoped to escape. She read Private Eye ( while it was still funny ) and admired the British mistrust of politicians.

    I miss her so much.

  44. I hang out on some American forums.

    They like a few BBC shows: Blue Planet and Dr Who mostly. They mistake Downton as BBC.

    A reasonable mistake. ‘Downton Abbey’ was aired on BBC America, which shows programmes from various UK channels. It is also, ahem, a commercial wing of the Beeb which turns a profit for Aunty.

  45. As Clinton once said “It’s the economy stupid”. We have a good one, much of the rest of the World doesn’t. Let’s see if that’s still true if Corbyn gets in.

  46. I’ve taught American exchange students in two ancient universities, in science and engineering. The Yanks are a year behind the British students, and these are Yanks from MIT and such.

    To prefer a US university for your undergraduate degree may be perfectly reasonable, but it’s not for the academic standards. Presumably it’s because you want the option to be a member of a club in the biggest rich country in the world.

    For postgraduate work the balance is different. If you can get into a very good American lab, and bear the 5 or more it might take to get your PhD, fair enough. Again you have joined a club of the sort that might advance your career. This time, however, without sacrificing academic standards and, very probably, getting the advantage of working in a lab that is, simply, much richer.

    But below the best the standards are pretty variable. I was struck when one of my continental PhD students went to a more-than-respectable US university to do a post doc. He was appalled by how badly equipped the lab was. He departed soon after. He is now happily employed in the Orient.

  47. @dearieme

    A mate of mine works as a process engineer for a major oil company (not Tim N’s 🙂 ). He did a stint in the US and most of his US colleagues had PhD’s cos their undergrad MEng equivalents were absolute pants.

    This means that the spams at say age 30 are professionally waaaay behind their Euro compatriots who did 4-year masters rather than the US “broad-based then PhD” BS. The 30 year old Brits / Euros all have 6 or 7 years professional experience, whereas the yanks have half that or even less at the same age.

    Apparently there were some who didn’t like working under someone with a “mere” MEng from Oxford…

  48. BnLiA – She read Private Eye ( while it was still funny )

    She was a lady of perspicacious wit.

  49. A young friend of mine was interviewed for a job at an American company. His prospective boss emphasised that “you gotta have the academics”.

    My pal didn’t find that easy to translate into Brenglish: he was not in the habit of wandering around with a couple of lecturers in his pockets. He assumed that the boss meant some combination of credentials and where they had been obtained.

    Anyway he got the job so presumably one or more aspects of his education were deemed satisfactory. But when he started work HR demanded to see his degree certificates, which of course he couldn’t find. So he had to stump up for new copies.

    As he said, this was an HR department that couldn’t get anything else right but did manage to stir its stumps on this issue. He assumed that American companies are so used to applicants lying about their degrees that they feel the need to see the evidence.

  50. BnLIA

    That bought a tear to my eye – a very touching tribute. Your late wife sounds like a very wise lady…

  51. Several Germans I’ve known who live or have lived in London think the Tube is wonderful. Goodness knows why …

  52. Re: UK universities. Oxbridge is very prestigious, natch, but the Indians I’ve worked with tell me the USA is the number one choice for wealthy, smart Indian students. Britain is very much a fallback option.

    That’s probably because they’re planning to study a STEM subject with a view to a job in Silicon Valley (or similar). If they were hoping to become PM, they’d study PPE at Oxford.

  53. This morning we had the pleasure of hearing the Today programme lecture the UK editor of Russia Today that he wasn’t independent of the Kremlin because it was funded out of taxes whereas the BBC is funded by the license fee. Fact is that the license fee is just a regressive tax. Set out on legislation, non-payers punishable by fines and collected into the Consolidated Fund before the SCAMS takes a cut and pays the balance to. Channel 4 and the BBC, it is every bit a tax, just not a tax on income.

  54. SE
    🙂

    I actually went to the same schools ( prim and sec ) as Sadiq Khan. I am a bit older.

    I do not consider that fact to be a recommendation: for him, me or the school.

  55. I live in France. The universities, NHS and BBC have come up in conversation exactly zero times with colleagues, friends and aquaintances.

    Our understatement, football clubs, national rugby team, and a certain flambéing of Joan of Arc on the other hand…

  56. Racing cars, design and construction.
    Formula 1 in particular.
    England is still the world centre of innovation.

  57. Bloke no Longer in Austria
    Like many above, I think your missus sounds like she was a top lady.
    I hope you and the family have found peace.

  58. I’ve done my share of traveling, although not like the high-flying engineers and academics here. (I acknowledge and admire the hard work it took to attain such positions.)
    I was a strictly low budget backpacker; I lived in Chungking Mansions for a while! I’ve met loads of people from all over the world especially as a Youth Hostel Manager at a couple of places in California and I have to say I don’t recall anyone ever mentioning the BBC, NHS or our Universities.
    Generally, we Brits seem to be quite well regarded all over the world. Although the caveat is those who behave inappropriately.
    I’ve cringed at the ‘Oi oi’ Essex greeting in Thailand and recently listened to a Prague taxi driver bemoan the attitude of stag parties there.
    I have no idea what Chakrabortty is going on about.

  59. At the risk of channelling my inner Murphy, I think the UK university sector has massively over – expanded because of foreign tuition fees. Most residential accommodation in that part of London bounded by Baker street, Westminster, elephant and castle, and kings Cross is owned by one or other London colleges. Oxford has expanded massively over the last 20 years. The reason, China as far as I can tell.

    Once China builds its own UCL or Oxford, the gig is up.

  60. As an American my views may slightly help.

    My opinion is that a degree from a top British university is more prestigious than one from anywhere else. That said, there are plenty of British universities(City College based on the economics department) that are as respectable as Northern South Carolina University of Agriculture, Mining, and Gender Studies.

    As for the NHS, I do find it impressive that you have a socialist medical system that provides comparable results to mine for a third of the per capita cost.

    I don’t regularly watch BBC so all I see are the good bits that are rebroadcast.

    What I admire most is that you have the guts to walk away from the EU, despite much of the world telling you it is a terrible idea.

  61. “As for the NHS, I do find it impressive that you have a socialist medical system that provides comparable results to mine for a third of the per capita cost.”

    I’m sure a National Food Service could provide the dietary requirements of the nation for a fraction of what we currently spend on stuffing our faces, and if compared in terms of calories and nutrients it provided would look like great value. Indeed we could all live on a fraction of what we currently spend on food if we voluntarily removed all the nice stuff and ate nothing but porridge and beans on toast.

    Thats not really the point – we can all live sack cloth and ashes type existences very cheaply, we’d just rather have a few home comforts instead thank you very much. Same goes for medical services too…………….

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