There are rarely weeks when issues of corruption and anti-corruption are not in the news..

but, even by normal standards, there was plenty going on in the first week of December. Things kicked off with a depressing story from China, where the head of admissions at one of China’s most well-regarded universities was caught fleeing the country after having accepted millions of pounds worth of bribes to admit students who might not otherwise have been academically up to it (see here).  That was followed by more evidence (as if any were really needed) that politicians have to be 100 per cent on message all the time as the UK’s attorney general, Dominic Grieve, came a cropper when commenting on perceived relationships between levels of corruption and certain ethic communities (see here). Cue plenty of political backtracking (see here).

The main event last week was nonetheless the publication by Transparency International (TI), the leading anti-corruption NGO in the corruption field, of its annual ‘Corruption Perceptions Index‘ (CPI).  TI celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2013 and it has produced the CPI annually since the late 1990s.  TI in general and the CPI in particular therefore have real staying power, and that in spite of the (not inconsiderable) number of methodological problems that are inherent in the index (see here and here for less and more details on these).  For the record, the Danes and the Kiwis came out on top, whilst the Afghans, North Koreans and Somalis came in joint 175th (and therefore bottom).  The UK rose marginally to 14th, whilst the Spaniards and Syrians performed – for their own specific reasons – much worse than they had done in previous years.  Whilst many critics write the CPI off as fit only for parlour games and pub quizzes, the CPI does at least get people talking about corruption (just google it if you don’t believe me, newspapers all around the world have been all over it) – and, all caveats to one side, that is almost certainly a good thing.

Only marginally less high profile than the launch of the CPI was the annual Christmas dinner of the MA in Corruption and Governance students at the University of Sussex.  Of the 20 students on the course, 15 assembled at a salubrious Hove Indian restaurant to salute the on rushing Christmas period. It’s been a busy old term for the current cohort, and with, amongst other things, internships beckoning for 14 of the group in the spring their hectic schedule won’t be changing any time soon. Better to be busy than bored, as they say!

Dan Hough

University of Sussex

Posted in News, NGO's

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