Academics converge to debate economic crisis and widening gulf around world

WORLD-RENOWNED academics have converged on one of England’s leading universities to discuss the growing economic divide blighting communities across the globe.

One of the most significant conferences of social policy researchers in the UK in recent times is being staged at York University this week.

Among the key topics of discussion are the economic crisis which continues to consume the world and the emergence of the Far East as a financial powerhouse.

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York itself has cultivated close links with nations such as China in recent years to boost the Yorkshire city’s tourism trade and academia.

it has the second highest concentration of Chinese students in the region, and the city has identified the Far East as a prime market to boost its already hugely important tourism industry.

The conference is involving two of the biggest social policy associations in the world - the Social Policy Association (SPA) and the East Asian Social Policy research network (EASP).

Chairwoman of the SPA, Caroline Glendinning, said: “The global economic picture, recent trends in welfare reform and the shift of economic power to the East make this event timely and particularly salient.

“It underlines the association’s commitment to work with international partners on issues of social injustice and inequality wherever it is to be found.”

Among the papers which are to be presented at the conference is an analysis by the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation on forced labour and the experiences of Chinese migrants in the UK.

Speakers will include the director of the European Network on Debt and Development (EURODAD), Jesse Griffiths, who will argue that European governments must forge a fairer system of international finance in response to the debt crisis.

The spotlight will also fall on the ways in which states support, sustain and direct business and industry - an issue which has gained international headlines following the banking bail-outs. The conference will also look at the Government’s welfare reforms which come in the wake of increasingly harsh attitudes towards benefits claimants that have escalated throughout the last 15 years.

The Social Policy in an Unequal World conference started on Monday and will conclude today.