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Huzzah! The Tories will ban arts and studies degrees!

Students are being “ripped off” by universities offering bad degrees, Rishi Sunak warns as he unveils a crackdown on low-quality courses.

Writing exclusively for The Telegraph, the Prime Minister says too many young people are being sold a “false dream” that going to university will give them the skills they need to get a “decent job”.

As part of a government plan to improve standards, the universities watchdog will for the first time take future salaries into account when judging if a course is failing participants.

That is what that means, no?

26 thoughts on “Huzzah! The Tories will ban arts and studies degrees!”

  1. ‘force universities to limit the number of students taking “low-value” degrees in England, a measure which is most likely to hit working class and black, Asian and minority ethnic applicants’

    Well, I see that the critics think those sort of courses are all that working class, black, asian and minority ethnic applicants are fit for.

  2. “If a U.S. college degree appears to be useless, it is by design,” he said, arguing that liberal arts degrees amount to “training for upper class free men (liber) who were above having a profession.” —Nassim Nicholas Taleb

  3. Arts are like the fucking Vulcan academy of sciences compared to “black” studies or “queer” theory.

    Something tells me those aren’t on the list of useless for some completely unfathomable reason.

  4. Another problem of course is that for many jobs, especially in the Public Sector, a degree is an entry requirement.

  5. Another problem of course is that for many jobs, especially in the Public Sector, a degree is an entry requirement.

    Abolish the public sector too. Problem solved. (And not just this problem, many, many other problems also solved too)

  6. Why not:-

    1) abolish the current (£9250 p.a.) cap on all degrees, and
    2) make individual universities responsible for handing out, administering and recovering student loans.

    Hopefully this will allow prospective students to see what value is placed on their courses by the institution teaching the course, and will help universities to improve their student selection methodology.

    As an additional benefit, UK taxpayers might end up a little bit less poor… – probably not.

  7. ologies. Wot abaht ologies?

    (Not Physiology, obvs. Or Geology. Oh all right, I mean Sociology. Ban Sociology!)

  8. We all know that many degrees simply exist for Chlamydia and Torquil to spend three years socialising and avoiding any real work until the allowances start at 21 and they can get into the serious business of protesting

    I wonder how many degree courses would survive with some business case type analysis?

  9. You can’t ban the courses, because that would be tantamount to censorship.

    What we can say is that Student Loans cannot be used to fund them, so if Cressida wants to waste 4 years on a gender studies, black studies, women’s studies, history of art or underwater basket weaving she needs to fund that from her own trust fund, parents or whatever.

  10. Question for you lot. Given a clean slate, how would you build a tertiary education system? On the university model?
    I’m not sure such a thing should be directed at school leavers. Why? Education should be available throughout one’s life according to need. So I wouldn’t mind seeing a minimum period of working/taxpaying (3 years?) as a prerequisite for entitlement. And certainly an end to the structured university course at a fixed location. That’s just a leftover from the distant past, when books were expensive so they would be read to the scholars. Same with lectures. Why are they still doing them “live”?

  11. A three year interruption might be a good scheme for many students but for God’s sake don’t interrupt the education of mathematicians or those who use maths heavily. Unused, their skills would decay pretty rapidly. They’ve seen that, I believe, is some countries with National Service. I don’t know whether that argument applies to lab skills – I expect not because few school leavers have lab skills worth mentioning. Foreign language skills? Could be though maybe the serious deferred student would find it easy to keep them working in his leisure time.

    The other point is that by ages 18 to, what, 25 you are in your finest fettle for learning new stuff quickly. It would be a shame to throw away three of those years, at least for students and disciplines that are serious.
    And if students and disciplines aren’t serious why are we subsidising them?

    For the crew who think university is a holiday-camp-that-gives-degrees, by all means have a three year gap. Hell, have a ten year gap. But don’t piss about with the intellectually serious eighteen year olds – you’d almost certainly be doing more harm than good.

    I wonder how few universities we’d need if we confined admission to the intellectually serious.

    I propose we take advantage of devolved government by trying such experiments in, say, Wales.

  12. The other point is that by ages 18 to, what, 25 you are in your finest fettle for learning new stuff quickly.
    Respectfully, I’d say that’s complete rowlocks. It’s far easier to teach someone if they have some practical experience. It doesn’t even need to be in the subject. The mistake is thinking education is something separate from life. Life is learning & the process of learning to learn. If the person can’t hack that in their life for themselves, why waste time educating them? You end up with what you’ve got. Morons with credentials.

  13. Bung ’em in the army. Give ’em a sharpened stick and tell them “The Russkies are over there…”

  14. Otto, don’t you think the army is fucked up enough already, what with lots of rainbow badges on flak jackets, pink nail varnish and he/she pronouns? (I know, he/she may be standard MO for the Senior Service or the brylcreem boys).

  15. It should be no business of the government how many and what courses universities provide. Universities should provide whatever and as many courses and places as they think students will pay for. We’ve seen what decades of the government forbidding universities from teaching all the medical students that apply and are demanded by the NHS has done.

  16. Dropping degree courses useless for vocation or for reputable academia would be excellent. However you would also have to turn the crap unis back into Fenland Tech and have employers reintroduce apprenticeships.

  17. Universities should provide whatever and as many courses and places as they think students will pay for.
    You’d have to get away from the model that universities are way to provide employment for academics. And that education is an end in itself. (Actually it is, but not in the manner universities provide it. The point is the education, not from where you receive it)

  18. @ bis
    Keep some universities to teach people with an academic bent stuff that will be useful in future careers in designing chemical factories, nuclear power plants, antibiotic and anti-viral medicines and vaccines, fuel-efficient jet engines, …
    Medical schools for doctors and nurses (university-style for doctors, mixture of academic and practical for nurses).
    Resurrect the Technical Colleges
    Teacher training colleges
    Sounds a bit “old hat” but it worked better than the current system

  19. Suzanne Moore’s made the case for opposing Rishi’s “clampdown” in today’s Torygraph.
    The Prime Minister’s clampdown on ‘low value’ degrees is the final nail in the coffin of the long-dead idea of social mobility

    So what does that actually mean, now? You go to university to meet the people who know the people…? Sounds like the C19th Royal Court under the Georges.
    Or is it just simply that credentialization has meant it’s impossible to get a decent job without a university degree? That’ll keep the riff-raff out!
    So the proliferation of university graduates has made the UK a leader for innovation & productivity, has it? Funny thing. If you look back in history. to when the UK was a leader for innovation & productivity. The further back you look, the fewer university graduates there were. These people seemed to have managed without them.
    Sure john77, no doubt those talents are needed. But can you make the case that you need a mediaeval institution to impart the knowledge?

  20. @ bis
    Certain institutions which were founded in the “Middle Ages” and have progressed and developed since then are pretty good at imparting the knowledge. The well-known example of Trinity College Cambridge that has more Nobel Prize-winners (34) than any country except the USA, UK, Germany and France (Oxford and Cambridge combined have more Nobel Prize winners than any other country except the USA).
    Do we *need* them to impart the knowledge? Well, unless you want to do without and/or until someone invents an alternative means or institution that will do so half as well, the answer must be “Yes”.
    It isn’t just acdemic prizes, there are dozens of practical applications being developed and exploited in the Cambridge Science Park and “spin-offs” of Oxford Research (I keep getting recommendations to invest in new companies exploitating some of the “spin-offs”)
    If you can find a better way I shall applaud, but the record of previous attempts by those who decry “mediaeval institutions” is pretty disappointing.

  21. Survivorship bias. If we look around now for medieval instoitutions which have sirvived we’re likely to only find the ones good enough to ahve survived 600 years….

  22. The problem is not really with esoteric “Mickey Mouse” courses like MA Golf Studies. It’s with poor quality generic courses like business studies being pushed out through dubious partner colleges. Good article about it recently in the NY Times, of all places:-

    “News of the opportunity spread, propelled by Facebook groups and word of mouth. Whole families signed up, helping turn a vocational school of 41 students atop a Chinese restaurant into a for-profit juggernaut. Oxford Business College, unaffiliated with the elite school nearby, now has several campuses and more than 8,000 students… ‘Join a university without any qualification and get up to 18,500 pounds,’ one advertisement on Facebook reads, listing no school, only a phone number and the money figure… Dozens of similarly anonymous posts appear on Facebook groups for Eastern Europeans in Britain. ‘Do you want to study at the easiest university in U. K.?” asks another ad. “Do you need additional income?'”

    I’m fairly confident Rishi’s new ‘crackdown’ is aimed more at Golf Studies than the actual problem

  23. Thought that (at least one) Golf Management course was a degree with a good financial return, a growing sector of the global economy and grads from the course were generally getting plum jobs in it. Going from memory so that might be balls but you can’t really go on the name of the course, better to look at outcomes.

    From a human capital PoV it does make sense to invest in skills when young and have longer to make a return on them. Going to uni at fifty makes less sense than at 18. But of course you might want a different paradigm than uni anyway given how often people switch career. On the job training is also a good way to develop skills when you’re getting started, have employers got worse at that due to fear they’ll train someone up and they’ll just jump ship to work for someone else? Old style apprenticeships were very long, over five years, which really tied the youngster into things.

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