Can someone tell Rishi Sunak how influential Mickey Mouse is?

 In News

It’s the Conservative party’s way of referring to what they call low-quality degrees – although they haven’t really specified what those degrees actually are – but there was previously some speculation the quality of these degrees would be calculated on graduate outcome earnings.

Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, promised the measures would “crack down” on providers that insist on continuing to provide such courses. At the time, UKCISA chief executive Annemarie Graham said the impact on international student degrees was yet to be determined.

That’s pretty much still the case.

This would undoubtedly affect the performing arts, designers and perhaps film studies students, to name a few – and as argued by Polly McKenzie from University of the Arts, those who excel in such degrees tend to make life more interesting and enjoyable for the rest of us.

It’s quite the trend on the part of Rishi Sunak. Announcing bold reforms – undoubtedly populist moves to help get voters onside – that play well with the right wing of the “broad church” of the Conservative party.

But there’s something perhaps more subtle with this latest announcement, where he’s made essentially the same stump speech again.

Conservative MP and minister of state for school standards Damian Hinds was given the lovely job of going toe-to-toe with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on her Sunday show to try and explain this renewed pledge.

“Take computer science, for example, really crucial and really important for the economy; there’s a huge variation in what people end up learning – it’s about identifying individual courses not for government ministers to say which they are,” he said, noting it would be up to the Office for Students.

They would, apparently, look at things like drop-out rates, the proportion of graduates that are going to graduate employment, and indeed, graduate earnings, to make sure that an underperforming course “can’t recruit more students onto it”.

This clearly leaves a bit of a gap, as well. The resources are still being spent to teach people in the few years before such courses could vanish, because the students still on the course will go through until graduation.

Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, promised the measures would “crack down” on providers who insist on continuing to provide such courses

Considering the thousands and thousands of university courses across the country, the timeframe for such an endeavour would most likely be years; and it’s not like we’ve been told how long this would take, when it would start or what funding the OfS would get to actually undertake such a task.

As such, it’s hardly a money-saving endeavour in itself, taking all that time and OfS resources to decide which courses get axed, when much of the UK higher education sector – especially in England – is still reliant on international student fees now, not in years’ time when this project has made its recommendation.

The other curious part of this, as well as the looming general election (and wanting to grab the headlines; the Guardian’s Election Extra podcast noted how the Tories keep making their policy announcements late at night to dominate the next day’s news cycle), is the timing.

Despite all the press about a government response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s review into the Graduate Route, it took almost the entire working day on May 23 for them to actually publicly announce on the Home Office website that they were in fact, not axing the route.

And even then, they focused more on making sure people knew they would be “smashing rogue agents’ business models”, without detailing how exactly they’d being doing that.

The reluctance from the Home Office to release the information was just one of the pointers suggesting Sunak didn’t get to axe the Graduate Route, as he clearly wanted to. Thus, renewing his call to make sure that “low quality courses” – again, with quite weak details on how these will be determined – is a surefire way to get those against immigration fired up again, albeit indirectly, just in time for an election that’s currently not polling to go his way.

People who graduate from these “Mickey Mouse degrees” are still doing great things. They’re going into the arts, they’re going into journalism – and a good amount are even going into working at the universities that keep the HE system going. And a good portion of them are international students.

Not to mention, Mickey Mouse is one of the most influential cartoon characters of all time.

This is an opinion piece by Reporter and News Editor Sophie Hogan.

The post Can someone tell Rishi Sunak how influential Mickey Mouse is? appeared first on The PIE News.

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