5,000 ‘soft degree courses axed’

‘Staggering’ reduction in numbers of degree courses

Everyone’s favourite source of educational critique, Mail Online, conflates several stories and comes up with some earth-shattering news. Some universities are responding to changes in student demand by discontinuing some courses:

20111129-112512.jpg

Universities have axed 5,000 degree courses in preparation for cuts in state funding and the trebling of tuition fees, due to take effect in 2012.

Figures show there are 38,147 courses on offer through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service for entry in 2012, down a staggering 12 per cent, from 43,360.

Vice-chancellors have targeted their least popular non-academic courses – ‘soft subjects’ that offer poor employment prospects such as Caribbean Studies – because they are loss-making.

Some universities, such as London Metropolitan, have slashed more than 60 per cent of their courses, including philosophy, performing arts and history.

The University of East Anglia has announced the closure of its music school, which was opened in the 1960s with the help of Benjamin Britten.

The figures, from Supporting Professionalism in Admissions, come as universities fear applications for so-called ‘Mickey Mouse courses’ will reduce to a trickle when students face the prospect of £9,000 a year fees.

So, universities behave as you would expect them to in response to changes in student preferences. And there really is no case to be made that music, philosophy, performing arts, history and Caribbean Studies are either ‘soft’ or only appropriate for study by diminutive cartoon characters.

Advertisements

“Drop the ‘mickey mouse’ degrees”

“Drop the ‘mickey mouse’ degrees” says head of Royal Society of Chemistry

It’s silly season again. According to a blog post from Richard Pike of the RSC:

‘Mickey Mouse’ degree courses should be swept away, and priorities in university education and research should reflect the challenges facing the country over the forthcoming decades. No longer should the government be paying 18-year-olds to start courses on celebrity journalism, drama with waste management, or international football business management.

This seems to be prompted by new constraints in HE funding and suggests that not only is utilitarianism a primary consideration but that university autonomy is also secondary to the perceived national need. Anyway, whatever the philosophical basis of the approach it’s always fun to pick on bonkers degree courses. Which probably explains why the story was swiftly picked up by the Telegraph which quotes Dr Pike:

“We need a population with an enduring set of skills, such as an understanding of the physical world around us, literacy and communication, numeracy, how to function and continue to learn in a complex society, and above all creativity, rather than an ability to satisfy some ephemeral demand that in 10 years’ time will be viewed as a curiosity.”

Further analysis of the courses he lambasts is also offered by the paper:

Celebrity Journalism is a new three-year course to be offered at Staffordshire University from this autumn. It includes topics such as interviewing celebrities and understanding celebrity culture. International Football Business Management is offered by Bucks New University and covers coaching, government policy, and issues in sport and leisure, among others.

All highly entertaining stuff therefore and really nothing new as previous posts on the launch of an MA in Beatles Studies and the offer of a degree in Northern Studies show. For the really masochistic there is also a podcast on “bonkers or niche” degrees.