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:
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.