Nadhim Zahawi is planning a crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees, the Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Universities will be required to publish the dropout rate and employment outcomes of graduates on every advertisement they post for a degree, similar to the way loans must be clear on the APR, as part of the plans. considered by the Secretary of Education.
This would apply to both physical and online advertisements for courses and would aim to ensure that students are not “misled” when applying, insiders said.
Mr Zahawi wants to see stricter criteria for university entrance and restrictions on courses that do not offer good job prospects while putting young people in debt.
Universities will be required to post the dropout rate and employment outcomes of graduates on every announcement they post for a degree, similar to how loans must be upfront about APR, as part of plans considered by the Education Secretary.
A government source says the aim is to crack down on universities cynically offering such ‘dumb’ degrees as ‘David Beckham Studies’, despite knowing they are unlikely to lead to better prospects career or income for young people. They pointed out that some management degrees have a dropout rate of over 50%.
Ministers are currently discussing proposals to introduce a ‘no C at Maths GCSE, no university’ rule to significantly tighten entry criteria.
The more severe measures aim to push students towards other sectors, including apprenticeship.
A senior government source has come out in favor of requiring a minimum C level in mathematics for all university applicants. However, the plan is controversial and others want a softer version of pupils having to pass maths or English at GCSEs or have a minimum of two Es at A level in order to attend university.
This would apply to both physical and online advertisements for courses and aim to ensure students are not ‘misled’ when applying, insiders have said (stock image)
The talks are part of a Department for Education consultation on the introduction of minimum qualifications for access to student loans.
Robert Halfon, the Tory MP who chairs the Commons Education Select Committee, said: ‘I hope they proceed with caution on this. Some people who are very bad at math may be able to do a history degree.
“Rather than denying someone a place at university, we should be offering them a refresher course while they’re there.”
The Department for Education is concerned that “not all students receive the same quality of education” and that many end up in student loan debt for courses with poor job prospects.
An insider familiar with the talks said: “The problem with universities is that they see themselves as part of a free market, but they’re not because they’re charging taxpayers.”
These plans are part of wider reforms separate from the next education white paper, expected at the end of this month.
Mr Zahawi plans to use the white paper to make apprenticeships and vocational pathways more attractive to young people. This will involve an overhaul of the T Levels, or technical diplomas, with the aim of making them as prestigious as the A Levels.
The talks are part of a Department for Education consultation on the introduction of minimum qualifications for access to student loans (stock image)
The T-levels will be designed with employers on “robust employer standards”, a source said, and will provide a 45-day work placement for students.
A government source said: ‘What we need to realize is that for parents and ambitious children, following professional paths becomes as prestigious as an academic or university path. People shouldn’t feel pressured to go to college,” adding that vocational streams shouldn’t be seen just as “hard hats and high-visibility jackets” but also as highly technical professions, including work on film sets.
Mr Halfon said: ‘Instead of university, university, university, it should be about skills, skills, skills. This is why getting the right T levels is so important.
“We should encourage more students to take T-Levels and apprenticeships – unlike most students who go to college and don’t get good graduate jobs despite taking huge loans.”
Other measures expected to be announced in the white paper include new “covid catch-up” measures, including targeted support for children who have fallen behind during the pandemic.
New targets will be set for pupils passing the English and Maths GCSEs for 2030 which will be more ambitious than those before Covid.
The white paper will also outline a plan to have all schools run by academic trusts, which would give them more autonomy from local councils.