Paul: When Diversity Isn’t the Right Kind of Diversity

Useful reminder that minorities are not monolithic in their political perspectives.

In many ways, it is a positive sign of civic integration when all groups participate in different political parties and formations, as is the case in Canada:

The death of Queen Elizabeth II has dominated headlines this month, homages to her reign and dissections of the Harry and Meghan situation unsurprisingly pushing other news aside, especially other stories from Britain.

But even amid all the pomp, one news item out of Britain has attracted curiously little attention. Liz Truss, the new Conservative prime minister, announced her cabinet, and for the first time ever, not a single member of the inner circle — what’s referred to as the Great Offices of State — is a white man.

The home secretary, Suella Braverman, is the daughter of Kenyan and Mauritian immigrants. The mother of the foreign minister, James Cleverly, emigrated from Sierra Leone. The new chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, was born to Ghanaian parents.

Did the left break into applause? Were there hosannas throughout progressive Twitter heralding this racial, ethnic and gender diversity as a step forward for society?

Not exactly.

Instead, the change was dutifully relayed, often with caveats. “Liz Truss’s cabinet: diverse but dogmatic,” noted The Guardian. The new team was criticized as elite, the product of schools like Eton, Cambridge and the Sorbonne. These people aren’t working class, others pointed out. They don’t sufficiently support the rights of those seeking asylum in Britain or policies that address climate change.

“It’s a meritocratic advance for people who have done well in education, law and business,” Sunder Katwala, the director of British Future, a think tank that focuses on issues of immigration, integration and national identity, told CNN. “It’s not an advance on social class terms.”

This is an interesting criticism. “Meritocratic,” used here in a pejorative sense, means based on ability and achievement, earned through a combination of talent and hard work. Traditionally, merit served as the primary consideration in hiring, but some people today see the very systems that confer merit as rigged, especially against minorities. In an effort to rectify that imbalance and to diversify the work force, particularly for leadership positions, it has become common practice in hiring — in the business and nonprofit worlds, as in government — to make racial or ethnic diversity a more significant factor.

The trouble is that for many of the same people, ethnic and racial diversity count only when combined with a particular point of view. Even before Truss’s cabinet was finalized, one member of the Labour opposition tweeted, “Her cabinet is expected to be diverse, but it will be the most right-wing in living memory, embracing a political agenda that will attack the rights of working people, especially minorities.”

Another Labour representative wrote: “It’s not enough to be a Black or ethnic minority politician in this country or a cabinet member. That’s not what representation is about. That’s actually tokenism.”

The implication is that there’s only one way to authentically represent one’s race, ethnicity or sex — otherwise you’re a phony or a pawn. Is that fair?

I’m not politically aligned with Truss on most issues. This is not the team I’d choose to lead a country reeling from Covid, an energy crisis and the twin disasters of Boris and Brexit. But it’s Truss’s prerogative to hire people with whom she is ideologically aligned and who support her policies.

And one has to assume those new hires joined her willingly and with conviction. Surely they, like all racial and ethnic minorities, are capable of the same independence of mind and diversity of thought as white people — some people Trumpy, other people Bernie.

Nor are they the first conservative minorities to hold top positions of power in Britain. It was the Conservative Party that, despite widespread antisemitism, first appointed a Jewish-born prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, in 1868. The three women who have served as prime ministers — Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May and now Truss — have all been Conservatives. The former prime minister David Cameron was no lefty, yet he made a point of emphasizing ethnic and racial diversity among his leadership appointments.

Black and other ethnic minority voters in Britain aren’t uniformly lefty, either. They cast 20 percent of their votes for Conservatives in 2019.

A similar diversity of political opinion among minorities exists in the United States, and it bewilders the left. An increasing number of Latinos are running as and voting for Republican candidates. Donald Trump got more votes from ethnic minorities in 2020 than he did in 2016. Black men’s support for Trump increased by six percentage points the second time around. And that was after the murder of George Floyd, an event assumed to have galvanized many minority voters on the left.

In his prescient 1991 book, “Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby,” the law professor Stephen Carter decried many of the assumptions around diversity nascent at that time — including the notion that racial or ethnic minorities are expected to think as a group, not as individuals. He bemoaned “the idea that Black people who gain positions of authority or influence are vested with a special responsibility to articulate the presumed views of other people who are Black — in effect, to think and act and speak in a particular way, the Black way — and that there is something peculiar about Black people who insist on doing anything else.”

It’s been three decades since Carter’s book was published, and that lamentable assumption has only gained purchase. As he pointed out then: “In an earlier era, such sentiments might have been marked down as frankly racist. Now, however, they are almost a gospel for people who want to show their commitment to equality.”

It seems odd to have to point out in 2022 that “diverse” hires can be every bit as diverse on the inside as they are on the outside. For every Ketanji Brown Jackson, you’re liable to get a Clarence Thomas. Apparently, we need constant reminders that there’s more to people than meets the eye and that in multicultural societies, an acceptance of diversity must be more than skin deep.

Source: When Diversity Isn’t the Right Kind of Diversity

British Muslims’ #citizenship reduced to ‘second-class’ status, says thinktank

Similar to arguments against the Conservative government’s C-24 citizenship revocation provisions (repealed by the Liberal government), but the absence of due process in the UK example is particularly egregious:

British Muslims have had their citizenship reduced to “second-class” status as a result of recently extended powers to strip people of their nationality, a thinktank has claimed.

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) says the targets of such powers are almost exclusively Muslims, mostly of south Asian heritage, embedding discrimination and creating a lesser form of citizenship.

The IRR’s report was published on Sunday amid renewed controversy over the case of Shamima Begum, who was smuggled into the hands of Islamic State aged 15, and in the wake of the Nationality and Borders Act – that allowed citizenship to be stripped without notifying the subject, coming on to the statute books.

Frances Webber, IRR vice-chair and report author, wrote: “The message sent by the legislation on deprivation of citizenship since 2002 and its implementation largely against British Muslims of south Asian heritage is that, despite their passports, these people are not and can never be ‘true’ citizens, in the same way that ‘natives’ are.

“While a ‘native’ British citizen, who has access to no other citizenship, can commit the most heinous crimes without jeopardising his right to remain British, none of the estimated 6 million British citizens with access to another citizenship can feel confident in the perpetual nature of their citizenship.”

Webber said before being used against the Muslim preacher Abu Hamza in 2003, no deprivation of citizenship had been authorised for 30 years. But since then there have been at least 217, with 104 removals in 2017 after the collapse of Islamic State in Syria.

Despite government claims that powers are only used against those who pose a grave threat to national security, or who have committed abhorrent crimes, the “Citizenship: from right to privilege” report argues the effect is that certain people have a “second-class, disposable, contingent citizenship”.

Webbersaid: “These classes of citizenship were brought in to target British Muslims of south Asian and Middle Eastern heritage. Such divisions act as a constant reminder to minority ethnic citizens that they must watch their step, and reinforce racist messages about ‘undeserving’ racialised groups unworthy of being British.”

The report describes the criteria for deprivation of citizenship as “nebulous and undefined” and warns of a risk of its use for political purposes, with Webber highlighting Begum’s case as an example. It was recently alleged Begum was rtrafficked into Syria by a spy working for Canadian intelligence.

“It raises the question: was Begum’s citizenship removed to divert attention from western agencies’ prioritisation of intelligence gathering over safeguarding vulnerable trafficked girls?” said Webber.

Citing the Prevent counter-terrorism programme, which has been dogged by claims of being a cover to spy on Muslim communities, the report said citizenship-stripping is “just one aspect of measures targeting Muslim communities, in Britain and abroad, in the past two decades, which have helped to turn British Muslims in the UK into a ‘suspect community’”.

The latest change to citizen-stripping powers in the Nationality and Borders Act, heightened public awareness – and criticism – of the existing rules as well as the additions, provoking public protests, opposition from campaigners as well as some MPs and Lords.

The Home Office said the legislation did not target ethnic minorities or people of particular faiths, and that the test for deprivation was clearly set out.

A spokesperson said: “Our priority is to ensure the safety and security of the UK. Deprivation of citizenship only happens after careful consideration of the facts and in accordance with international law. It is used against those who have acquired citizenship by fraud and against the most dangerous people, such as terrorists, extremists and serious organised criminals.

“We make no apology for doing whatever is necessary to protect the UK from those who pose a threat to our security.”

Source: British Muslims’ citizenship reduced to ‘second-class’ status, says thinktank

Channel crossings to the UK top 25,000 so far this year

By way of comparison, about 20,000 irregular arrivals at Roxham Road between January and July 2022 (virtually all), compared to close to 2 million at the US Southwest land border:

More than 25,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year, government figures show.

A total of 915 people were detected on Saturday in 19 small boats, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said, taking the provisional total for the year to 25,146.

There have been 8,747 crossings in August so far, including 3,733 in the past week, analysis shows.

The highest daily total on record came last Monday, 22 August, with 1,295 people crossing in 27 boats.

It has been more than four months since the home secretary, Priti Patel, unveiled plans to send refugees to Rwanda to try to deter people from crossing the Channel. Since then, 19,878 people have arrived in the UK after making the journey.

Source: Channel crossings to the UK top 25,000 so far this year

Diversity of UK senior civil service falls, rises at lower grades

Of note. Canadian figures by way of comparison, all visible minorities 18.9 percent, executives 12.4 percent, EX-4 10.1 percent, EX-5 9.2 percent (EX-4 and 5 likely equivalent to senior UK public servants):

The percentage of UK civil servants from an ethnic minority background is at a record high, according to the latest figures, but the proportion in top jobs has fallen for the first time since 2015.

Official figures for 2022 revealed that, of those with a known ethnicity, the percentage of government officials who are from an ethnic minority background is at a record high of 15.0% – up from 14.3% in 2021, and 9.3% a decade ago.

There was a year-on-year increase at all grades, with the exception of the senior civil service – the group of officials who run government departments or hold other top posts. In this group, there was a year-on-year decline from 10.6% in 2021 to 10.3% in 2022.

Percentage of civil servants from an ethnic minority background by grade 2012 to 2022

Civil Service Statistics 2022

The government had previously pledged to increase the percentage of senior civil servants who are from an ethnic minority year-on-year to reach 13.2% in the three year period from 2022 to 2025. However, in its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy: 2022 to 2025, published earlier this year, the government said it had stopped using targets to measure progress. “We will mainstream our success measures with our broader organisational priorities, such as Places for Growth [the plan to move officials out of London and into the regions of the UK], senior civil service workforce planning, talent schemes and recruitment priorities. Rather than relying on standalone targets, our ambitions will be embedded in these key deliverables designed to improve our delivery for citizens. Where our data indicates progress is not being made, action will be taken,” the strategy said.

The strategy made only one mention of people from ethnic minority backgrounds, stating: “We will make sure that people from minority ethnic backgrounds, those living with disabilities and those who have experienced disadvantage in their early lives can flourish in public service.”

Source: Diversity of UK senior civil service falls, rises at lower grades

UK Conservative Leadership: Sunak’s hardline immigration plan includes a cap on refugees and floating detention centres for asylum seekers

Of note as the two contenders compete for the anti-immigration vote:

Rishi Sunak has sparked outrage as he set out a hardline plan to deal with immigration if he becomes prime minister. The package features a cap on annual refugee numbers and the withholding of aid from some of the world’s poorest countries if they refuse to take back failed asylum seekers.

The former chancellor, who is trailing Liz Truss in polls of Conservative Party members in the current leadership election, said he would ramp up the controversial plan to operate deportation flights to Rwanda and that he would seek to establish similar schemes with other countries

And he said he would bar anyone arriving by small boat across the Channel from remaining in the UK – despite the fact that the majority of unauthorised arrivals are currently awarded asylum status.

Meanwhile, Ms Truss has also doubled down on support for the controversial plan, calling it the “right” policy and indicating she could extend the scheme further.

“I’m determined to see it through to full implementation, as well as exploring other countries that we can work on similar partnerships with. It’s the right thing to do,” she told the Mail on Sunday.

Source: Sunak’s hardline immigration plan includes a cap on refugees and floating detention centres for asylum seekers

Britain’s Surprisingly Diverse Tories

Significant, with interesting contrast with the base:

Fed up with Boris Johnson, Britain needs a new prime minister. It’s so fed up, in fact, that the next prime minister may look nothing like Johnson—that is, white, male, privately educated. The last time the Conservatives held a leadership contest, in 2019, the field of 10 contenders contained just one person of an ethnic-minority background and only two women. This time is remarkably different. Of those originally in contention, half were of ethnic-minority backgrounds and half were women. Until today’s initial selection, Britain could have had in Rishi Sunak or Suella Braverman its first Asian prime minister, in Kemi Badenoch its first Black prime minister, or in Nadhim Zahawi its first Kurdish and Muslim prime minister. (Zahawi has been eliminated, but Sunak, Braverman, and Badenoch remain in a field of six hoping to advance to the final stage of voting, slated for September 5.)

That such milestones could be achieved by a distinctly right-of-center party may seem odd—ironic, even—given the international left’s perceived patent on diversity and multiculturalism. But in Britain, the Conservatives have the best track record of political firsts, including the first Jewish prime minister in Benjamin Disraeli and the first female prime minister in Margaret Thatcher. Sajid Javid, whose recent resignation as health secretary led to the flood of Tory ministerial departures that toppled Johnson, was not only the first British Asian to put himself forward for the position of prime minister in 2019 but also the first ethnic-minority chancellor and home secretary. The Conservatives have produced the first female home secretary of an ethnic-minority background, the first Black chairman of one of Britain’s major political parties, and the first Muslim to attend the cabinet.

Conservatives haven’t always championed diversity in this way. Although the party elected its first lawmaker of Asian descent, Mancherjee Bhownaggree, in 1895, it would take nearly a century to do so again, this time with the election of Nirj Deva in 1992. Britain didn’t get its first British Asian woman in the House of Commons until in 2010 (when two were elected at once). Only five years ago did a British Asian ascend to one of the great offices of state for the first time (with Javid’s appointment as home secretary in 2018).

I reached out to Sunder Katwala, the director of British Future, a think tank that specializes in ethnicity and identity, to understand why the Conservative Party in particular has led Britain to this historic moment and what it reveals about the country’s sense of self.

“The pace of change of this development is absolutely extraordinary,” he said. In his view, this Conservative field represents “probably the most ethnically diverse contest for party leadership that has been seen in any major party in any democracy. For a party of the right of center, it’s off the scale.”

Diversity, after all, is generally regarded as a progressive shibboleth, not a Tory one. But as Katwala told me, this shift in representation among Conservatives did not happen organically but was the result of a years-long effort spurred by the former Conservative leader and prime minister David Cameron. When Cameron took over in 2005, the party claimed just two ethnic-minority members of Parliament, and he set out to ensure that his party more closely resembled the modern Britain it hoped to lead.

The next year, Cameron introduced a priority list of female and ethnic-minority candidates to be selected, many for safe Conservative seats. By the next election, the number of Conservative female MPs had risen from 17 to 49, and ethnic-minority MPs had increased from two to 11. Today, those figures stand at 87 and 22, respectively. By diversifying his party “at the top and from the top,” Katwala said, Cameron succeeded in transforming its image as a seemingly more inclusive and representative party, even if, in reality, it continued to lag behind the Labour Party in the diversity of its parliamentary caucus. In the House of Commons, more than half of Labour’s nearly 200 MPs are women and 41 are of ethnic-minority backgrounds—although Labour has so far failed to elect a woman or minority leader.

But Cameron’s diversity from above has not trickled down, and the Tory grass roots remain overwhelmingly male and white. Nor has the change of image necessarily resulted in more minority votes. During the last general election, the Conservatives stayed stuck at roughly 20 percent of the ethnic-minority vote compared with Labour’s 64 percent.

According to the party’s critics on the left, the Tories’ embrace of diversity among their senior ranks has hardly made Conservative politics more progressive either. Many of the party’s ethnic-minority leadership hopefuls are, in fact, among its most hard-line politicians on policy issues such as immigration, Brexit, and the rights of transgender people. The multicultural composition of the current leadership field seems only to have consolidated support for the Johnson government’s harsh plan of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda in a bid to deter illegal migration—a policy all of the candidates back.

Faiza Shaheen, an economist specializing in inequality and social mobility and a former Labour Party parliamentary candidate, told me that the prevailing belief in progressive circles is that increased diversity naturally leads to policies that benefit the most disadvantaged communities. She regards this belief as misguided because the benefits have not materialized—rather, the reverse. “You have this weird conundrum when you have more Black and brown people in senior, powerful positions, but policies that disproportionately hurt people of color,” she told me. Shaheen also pointed out that although the Conservative Party has made progress in achieving more ethnic diversity, social class and economic status remain significant dividing lines between those with access to power and those without.

Another part of the paradox of the Tory leadership contest is that although the contenders themselves are representative of a more diverse Britain, the voters will be that far less diverse electorate of roughly 200,000 Conservative Party members. Still, notes Katwala, many of the leadership contenders’ personal stories offer an optimistic, patriotic view of Britain that goes down well with the party faithful.

“There is no doubt at all that the Conservative Party membership can vote for an Asian or Black candidate,” he said. “The only people who doubt that are liberal progressives who are projecting assumptions and stereotypes onto the Tory Party membership, and maybe onto the voters that switch to the Conservatives at the general election, to say, ‘They won’t do that.’”

The latest leadership polling of party members, which puts Badenoch and Sunak among the top contenders to the front-runner Penny Mordaunt, shows that they’d have very little hesitation about doing so.

Source: Britain’s Surprisingly Diverse Tories

UK: Universities to defy government pressure to ditch race equality group

Of note:

Universities in England have launched a fightback against government attacks on their autonomy, telling ministers they “crossed a line” by pressurising them to abandon a scheme designed to improve equality on campus.

In what may be a turning point in the so-called “culture wars” over free speech, Universities UK (UUK) took on the education minister Michelle Donelan after she warned them to reconsider membership of a race equality charter, run by the charity Advance HE.

The scheme – which counts the majority of Russell Group universities among its members – aims to identify barriers to success for black, Asian and minority ethnic students. But in a letter to vice-chancellors this week, Donelan claimed that membership of the charter was “in tension” with universities’ duties to uphold free speech.

In its letter of response on Thursday, Universities UK said: “An important line has been crossed with the letter appearing to direct universities to take a specific approach” on equalities.

In a later statement, UUK confirmed that it intended to ignore Donelan’s request and remain affiliated with Advance HE.

A spokesperson for UUK said: “Universities take their responsibilities to promote and protect free speech very seriously. We have yet to see any evidence of how this voluntary, non-prescriptive scheme works against this.

“The scheme is voluntary and provides a means through which universities can address racial inequality within the sector and we will continue our work with Advance HE to support this goal.”

The row comes as the higher education freedom of speech bill is being debated in the Lords, where it has come under fire from Conservative, Labour and cross-bench peers. It has been criticised for imposing a new free speech regulator with new powers to fine universities for failing to comply with free speech provisions.

Vice-chancellors said Donelan’s letter was a chilling forerunner of how a regulator could interfere with internal university affairs if the bill is passed in its current form, with one describing it as “an unambiguous attack on university autonomy”.

David Willetts, the Conservative peer and former universities minister, said: “I do wish to see protections for freedom of speech, but it’s very odd to protect freedom of speech at the same time as further intervention.

“I think one of the reasons why universities in Britain are so internationally respected is because of their autonomy. I don’t think it’s as much a line being crossed as a slippery slope that we are on, in which the autonomy of our universities is gradually eroded.”

The letter to Donelan, signed by Prof Steve West, vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England, reminded the minister that racism remained “a pervasive societal issue” that affected students from ethnic minority backgrounds.

But it added: “Universities, as autonomous institutions, must also remain free to decide how best to foster inclusivity and tackle societal issues such as racism which have a serious and detrimental impact on staff and students.”

The letter continued: “We do not believe that free speech and voluntary external assurance frameworks are at odds with each other – rather they can help to address power imbalances and ensure a more diverse range of voices are empowered to speak up.

“We understand from our members in England that a number will likely respond to you directly, both to restate their commitment to ensuring free speech and to highlight how external assurance schemes play an important role in tackling serious issues such as harassment and degree awarding gaps.”

While Donelan’s letter noted that universities were autonomous and free to join schemes such as the race equality charter, she went on to say they should “reflect carefully” on membership.

While Advance HE’s race equality charter was the only example mentioned by name, Donelan went on to say that “there are of course a number of other, similar, schemes, and this letter invites careful consideration in respect of all these”.

Advance HE also administers the Athena Swan charter that seeks to improve gender equality within higher education and research. Donelan has previously described the scheme as “at worst a dangerous initiative that undermines scholarship”.

“Bearing in mind the substantial sums invested by the taxpayer into higher education, I would ask you to consider whether membership of these schemes; the initiatives that flow from them; and the creation of new, highly paid, management roles in these areas truly represent good value for money for taxpayers or students,” Donelan said.

Criticising the higher education freedom bill when it was debated this week, Shami Chakrabarti, a Labour peer and a former director of Liberty, said: “How can it be a protection of academic freedom to give more and more power over independent institutions of scholarship to the government’s Office for Students and the new director for freedom of speech?”

Willetts said that the current bill was heavy-handed and questioned how the bill’s freedom of speech regulator could balance the government’s demands that some forms of legal speech, such as holocaust denial, would not be allowed on campus.

“They are expecting the regulator to be more restrictive than simple lawful, freedom of speech. We need to know exactly what things he or she is not going to protect despite them being lawful,” Willetts said.

Willetts said he hopes the government would make “significant” amendments to the bill, pointing out that universities could find themselves punished for suppressing some forms of speech at the same time as tech platforms were punished under the government’s new online safety bill for transmitting the same opinions.

Source: Universities to defy government pressure to ditch race equality group

Paddington, go home: Home Office staff pin up faked deportation notices

Witty but inappropriate behaviour by public servants:

Over the past week mocked up immigration enforcement notices have begun to appear on internal Home Office staff noticeboards, featuring photographs of Paddington Bear, stating that he is wanted so he can be placed on a relocation flight to Rwanda.

Elsewhere, staff have noticed a rash of Refugees Welcome stickers, affixed to Home Office printers and pieces of furniture in departmental buildings around the country.

The organiser of the Our Home Office protest group, bringing together staff opposed to Rwanda deportations, said unease about the proposed removals has galvanised employees from all over the government department to take subversive action.

“It’s still a small, low-level campaign, but it’s growing and is already networked in offices throughout the country,” the group’s founder said, asking not to be named in order to protect his job at the department. “The announcement of the Rwanda transportation plan was really a significant moment for a lot of staff members who were quite shocked by how barbaric a proposal it is, particularly the way that it seems to be against the refugee convention and the principles that we are trying to uphold of giving people fair treatment.”

More rolls of Refugees Welcome stickers have been posted out in the past few days to members of staff who have got in touch through a protest group website, the organiser said. “No one expects working in the Home Office to be easy but this has pushed a lot of people over the edge,” the employee said.

Refugees Welcome sticker
Refugees Welcome stickers have begun to appear in Home Office buildings. Photograph: Twitter

Source: Paddington, go home: Home Office staff pin up faked deportation notices

The UK has a new open-door immigration policy – as long as you went to Harvard

Sharp and witty critique (and it is a lazy policy approach by the UK government):

Ever hoped that one day a government body would develop a way for you to measure your self-worth and quantify your potential once and for all? Well, you’re in luck!

The UK recently launched a “High Potential Individual” (HPI) visa aimed at attracting the “brightest and best” from around the world to its soggy shores. If you qualify under the scheme you are welcomed into the country for at least two years, even if you don’t have a job offer.

So who counts as the brightest and best? According to the British government, an HPI is someone who has graduated from a top-50 ranked university outside of the UK in the past five years. You can see the list of the 37 eligible universities here. Twenty-four of the universities listed are in North America, and include institutions like Yale, Harvard, and MIT. None of the eligible universities are in Africa, India, or Latin America. It seems there are officially no bright people in any of those places, then!

Source: The UK has a new open-door immigration policy – as long as you went to Harvard

U.K.’s ‘Brightest and Best’ Visa Plan Faces Charges of Elitism

The English “public school” insularity! No surprise that Canada’s big three (UBC, McGill Toronto) are on the list:

When Britain started a program this week offering a two-year visa to graduates from some top global universities, Nikhil Mane, an Indian computer science student at New York University, welcomed the news.

“I was happy,” said Mr. Mane, 23, whose university was on the list. “It’s a good way to pursue our dreams.”

More than 5,000 miles away, Adeola Adepoju, 22, a biochemistry student at Olabisi Onabanjo University in Nigeria, also read the announcement with great interest. But he had the opposite reaction.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Mr. Adepoju said. “No university from the third world is ranked.”

Britain’s “High Potential Individual” visa program allows graduates from 37 top-rated world universities in Australia, Canada, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the United States to come to the country for two years even if they do not have a job offer.

A majority of universities on the list are in the United States, including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, San Diego.

The government said the plan would attract the world’s “brightest and best” and benefit the British economy. Critics, however, say the plan nurtures global inequalities and discriminates against most developing countries.

The purpose of the policy is to create “a highly desirable and able pool of mobile talent from which U.K. employers can recruit” and drive economic growth and technological advances, the government said in its announcement. It did not put a cap on the number of applicants who would be accepted, and said that graduates with Ph.D.s would be allowed to stay for three years.

“We want the businesses of tomorrow to be built here today,” Rishi Sunak, the British chancellor of the Exchequer, said in a statement. “Come and join in!”

The program is in line with Britain’s post-Brexit visa policy, which has made entry easier for high-skilled workers and harder for those considered low-skilled ones, as well as asylum seekers. Visa pathways include a skilled worker visa for people who have received a job offer in Britain, a visa for people considered a “leader or potential leader” in certain fields, and a program to allow international students who graduated from British universities to stay for at least two years.

Mr. Mane, the New York University student, said that after he graduates with a master’s degree, he will be allowed to stay in the United States for three years. After that, his prospects of getting another visa are uncertain.

The opportunity to go to Britain “opens more options,” he said.

The new British visa has been praised in some academic circles in the United States as one to emulate. But many academics, students and politicians in Britain, Africa and India have spoken out against it, saying that the universities that students attend are largely influenced by their social and geographical circumstances, and that the new scheme rewards those who are already more privileged.

“I would not be eligible,” said Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist and a senior lecturer in machine learning at Queen Mary University of London, who went to a university in India that is not on the list. “It is very hurtful to find that you’re devalued and that people within your community are devalued because of arbitrary thresholds.”

Dr. Gurdasani said that as a student, she got one of seven spots to study medicine at Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, for which thousands of students competed. There, she received what she said was rigorous training, seeing patients with very complex illnesses, including infectious diseases, and building expertise that she then brought to Britain.

“We’ve seen the lack of this in the U.K. during the Covid pandemic,” she said, “It’s very, very shocking to see that after that we are seeing the same sort of names, the same universities pop up, which will favor obviously a particular kind of privileged white person.”

Madeleine Sumption, the director of the University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory, which tracks immigration patterns, said the new policy was an innovative idea, but with drawbacks.

“How do you decide who the highly skilled people are?” she asked, adding that the current policy would admit someone who just scraped through Harvard but not the highest achieving students at a top Indian university.

Introducing other criteria for assessing applicants, such as grades, would be fair, she said, but much harder to enforce“It’s very convenient for the government to just have an institution be on the list or not.”

Britain’s Home Office said the list had been compiled from leading global university ranking lists, and that new international institutions could move up the ranks and later join the list.

However, university rankings are widely criticized in many quarters, with critics saying they often fail to grasp the quality of teaching and often overemphasize research over instruction.

Phil Baty, who is responsible for developing the methodology of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which is among those the British government used, said in a post on LinkedIn that “this isn’t what we had in mind when creating the rankings.”

Zubaida Haque, the executive director of Equality Trust, a British charity, said that in offering the new visa, the British government failed to grasp that race, class and financial barriers prevented many deserving students from reaching top universities.

2017 study of Ivy League colleges, as well as institutions like the University of Chicago, Stanford, MIT and Duke, most of which are on the British visa list, showed that more students came from families in the top 1 percent of income distribution in the United States than the bottom half.

“This scheme shows that the government does not understand the systemic racial and class inequality in this country and they clearly do not understand it anywhere else,” Ms. Haque said. “It’s an elitist visa scheme.”

She added that the program gave an unfair advantage to those who needed it the least. “There is likely to be a good pipeline for these graduates anyway,” she said.

Christopher Trisos, a senior researcher at the African Climate and Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town, said that the program was also detrimental to Britain itself.

“If U.K. businesses and governments want to play a role in addressing the biggest challenges of this century — energy access, fighting climate change and pandemics — they need to be including skills and knowledge from developing countries,” he said.

Mr. Adepoju, the student from Nigeria, said he hoped to become a researcher in molecular oncology.

“I might not get a degree in the 50 top universities but I have high potential and I want to achieve great things,” he said. But, he added, “It’s their loss, not mine.”

Source: U.K.’s ‘Brightest and Best’ Visa Plan Faces Charges of Elitism