Stop With The Crazy Degrees

Categories Domestic Affairs, Education, Politics, Society
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Sky Sports News ran a fairly insignificant feature amongst the madness of the transfer window and tennis today. It revolved around the creation of a new educational establishment in Burnley based inside the Turf Moor stadium of Burnley Football Club.

This new establishment looks set to provide such valuable qualifications as a degree in Football Studies. That means that some poor soul will be shelling out £9k a year sometime in the near future for just another virtually worthless degree and then moaning when they don’t get a job instantly that uses it.

This is not an isolated incident. Other ridiculous degrees include:

  • Surf Studies
  • Water Sport Science
  • Puppeteering
  • Outdoor Adventure
  • Dairy Herd Management
  • and Air Conditioning
  • What could these degrees possibly give you that you couldn’t learn on a related job? My challenge to my readers it to find a job that requires one of the above degrees because it would be virtually impossible.

    All these ridiculous degrees are keeping a large part of what would be our 18-21 year old workforce out of industry and then providing them with a sense of entitlement for a high paying, degree related job which, as I’ve just mentioned, are very unlikely to even exist especially in the current state of the economy.

    While the rise in tuition fees by the government should go a good way in killing off some of the more ridiculous qualifications there needs to be more done to streamline the education industry and reduce the number of people going to university.

    In my opinion, for society to function properly it needs to have a good spread of skills, abilities and wages. For people to be adequately rewarded for their skills some people need to be paid highly and some people need to be paid lower wages. If everyone is paid the same wage then there is no incentive for people to pursue the more demanding and highly skilled work as it is easier just to do the minimum possible to get the set wage. If there is a spread of wages then people have an incentive to do the higher skilled jobs but, due to the high requirements, only some will be able to make it. The problem with Britain at the moment is that everyone sees university as the instant ticket to one of these high paid jobs and therefore demand is astronomical for university places. As the demand for these university places is so unwithering and irrational some universities have become sly and have started to offer these “Mickey Mouse” degrees as they know that someone will be willing to pay the same price for it as someone will for a degree in something useful like Maths or Engineering.

    The following diagram models the problem and shows why raising degree prices may not solve it.

    The diagram shows the quantity of useful and useless degrees at set price levels. At the current maximum price (around £3k a year) you can see that the intersections with the useful, useless and student demand lines mean that Q useful degrees are supplied by unis, QU useless degrees are supplied by unis but QD degrees are demanded by students (QD > Q + QU). After the tuition fee rise the maximum price rises to £9k and the new line above the original price is used. This means that the quantity of useless degrees rises to QU1 as unis are getting even more moeny for them. The useful degrees remain at Q as they are already at maximum capacity. The quantity of degrees demanded by students falls to QD1 as some find that the price doesn’t justify the degree.

    The problem that occurs here is that the number of useless degrees supplied rises with the price and so some way needs to be found to move the line for demand to the left so that it intersects the useful degree line at a reasonable price. The answer? Apprenticeships and the private sector. If firms were encouraged to come and employ students straight out of A-levels through apprenticeships and let them know the sort of money they could be making then they would be providing a viable substitute to a university education and thus the demand line would shift inwards so that the useful degrees can be achieved at the optimum price without any useless degrees.

    The government has announced an increase apprenticeships but 1) they aren’t plugging it enough to students and 2) there still aren’t enough. If these two things can be achieved then the state of university education and qualifications can be resolved.

    Currently studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St Annes College, Oxford University. I have a keen interest in applied economics, food and most types of sport.

    13 thoughts on “Stop With The Crazy Degrees

    1. Do you believe Latin is a worthwhile degree, or philosophy? There are a whole host of completely worthless degrees in our universities.

      From an economic standpoint I agree we should all study vocational courses that contribute in a tangible way to economic growth, from a less naive viewpoint I would suggest there is more to life than constantly accumulating wealth no matter how rich you/your country is.

      Some people like football studies, some people like philosophy. Most people don’t want to work in Tesco even if your ideology states that that is all they are good for, and they would be irrational not to.

      Where does quality of life fit into your ultraright wing views?You are as bad as the socialists you despise.

      1. So do you believe that the government should fund equally those degrees that are solely there to provide people utility i.e. football studies and those which have more of an economic benefit thus providing a return to society?

        The harsh fact is that we need people to working on those tills in Tesco and sweeping the streets just as much as you need someone to be “it” in tag. If people really didn’t want to be in those jobs then they would get the suitable qualifications necessary to not be in that position through hard work and graft and not through weak barely passable degrees that provide minmal benefit to society.

        1. Also, the problem shouldn’t not be just tackled on the surface by simply removing the degrees. The incentive for these degrees to exist needs to be removed so that the jobs that people are aiming for by going for these degrees can be accessed through apprenticeships and such. The skills normally required for these jobs can generally be said to not require 3 years+ of dedicated learning and in many cases can be just learnt on the job thus improving the efficiency and productivity of the British workforce by reintroducing many 18-22 year olds.

    2. I agree with Nick and Waller here, university degrees should only exist if their content requires them to be taught by experts in an academic system. Why should the students and the university waste money on such courses when businesses can educate potential employees all the same.

      The courses waller listed could be integrated or act as module options for more academic subjects such as biology, engineering, marine biology etc. which provide a more varied education for the student which equates to the investment of 9K they put in.

    3. Your daily mail-esque spin on the titles of the degrees is misleading ….

      Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineering (foundation 1 year degree) – 1 uni does it ….

      Water Sports Science (again only done by one university) and look at the units …. far more science based than you made it out to be and would be perfectly relevant degree in any sort of area of marine sciences … http://techfaculty.port.ac.uk/tud/db/BScHonoWateSporScie2241.htm

      Puppeteering – 2 uni’s in the world and once you read into it its not your punch and judy style puppets but an in depth study of the history, designing and acting involved in wider theatre, not just puppets

      Outdoor adventure – Its a BSC in Outdoor adventure leadership and management ……. Studied in it are:
      Physiology, psychology, weather and climate, safety management, environmental awareness, coaching analysis, business management, research methods, work experience and the leadership of adventurous outdoor activities are also studied in detail.
      During the final year students will complete an investigation of contemporary issues relating to the outdoor industry, a critical review of expedition based leadership from both a theoretical and practical perspective and an independent research project (double module) relating to an aspect of outdoor adventure of their choice. Students will also be required to choose a further four modules.

      Dairy Herd Management – A foundation Degree not a full Degree

      Perhaps you should not miss out important parts of course names simply to make them sound ridiculous ….. Your nearly as bad as the Sun! lol

      1. I actually didn’t miss anything out of the course names, I just left out the course description. These courses are all things that can be learnt on the job without significant training. Apprenticeships should be teaching the skills from these degrees, not universities.

        1. I agree to an extent, I think that these areas (exc. pupeteering (what the hell?) are in fairness too broad to be carried out within an apprenticeship.

          I would there ask why polytechnics should have gained university status just to improve their superficial prestige and image, I see no substancial benefits of doing so.

          Surely a simple measure would be to simply revert all Universities that fail to reach the criterea that Universities previously had to meet back to polytechnic status and leave these institutes to provide courses such as these.

          1. If we get into that sort of policy Ollie then some one decides which courses are valid and which aren’t … just because it’s not academic doesn’t make it less worthy of university funding and status!
            Why do we need to go to university to read history? You could read books and learn the same things …… Yet it is highly regarded by people as being a really good uni degree to do ….
            No one has a right to decide which courses are valid and which are bollocks …. There is a demand for all of them so therefore they are supplied by universities

            1. I referred to the courses as how they would be casually known around university campuses not with their full title including course code and BSC suffix. You’re just being picky and avoiding the issue that the courses don’t need to be taught.

              We do get to choose what is and isn’t valid just like we get to choose whether murder is right or wrong. The government is partially funding universities and degrees in some areas so if they aren’t perceived to be beneficial to society then they shouldn’t be obligated to partially fund them. One of the reasons why uni fees are going up is that so many people are going to uni with government subsidies. If uni places were cut back to the people that really NEED to go to university then these people would pay less and society would remain at the same level of welfare as people gain the skills they would have at uni from the useless courses elsewhere.

      2. What part of any those course’s could only be taught in a university? There is no need to go to uni to learn this and further narrow your percieved horizons!

        1. Read course descriptions and do some research before you comment VIOLENT Nick pahahhh 😉 the modules are far more technical than Waller’s shortened course titles would suggest!

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