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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 August 2007, 00:11 GMT 01:11 UK
University 'non-courses' attacked
horse's head
Horse psychology is one of the courses complained about
Hundreds of university "non-courses" should be abolished as a waste of public money, a group campaigning for lower taxes has said.

A report from the Taxpayers' Alliance highlighted 401 such courses starting this autumn in the UK, which it said cost 40m a year to run.

But the vice-chancellors' organisation Universities UK accused it of a "rag bag of prejudices".

It said courses were over-subscribed and graduates much in demand.

The TaxPayers' Alliance report said the courses "lend the respectability of scholarly qualifications to non-academic subjects".

The training they offered would be better learned on the job, it suggested.

The report had a "top five" of target courses:

  1. Outdoor adventure with philosophy, at Marjon, the College of St Mark and St John in Plymouth
  2. Science: fiction and culture, at the University of Glamorgan
  3. Equestrian psychology, at the Welsh College of Horticulture in Mold, Flintshire
  4. Fashion buying, at Manchester Metropolitan University
  5. Golf management, at UHI Millennium Institute, based in Inverness.

Author Peter Cuthbertson said: "Political priorities have led to a never-ending drive to increase the number of students in university.

"As a result, there has been a massive expansion of 'non-degrees' of little or no academic merit.

"The government has failed in its pledge to abolish 'Mickey Mouse' degrees.

"If 'non-courses' were abolished, all the other students could save over 100 on their tuition fees or buy an extra pint of beer a week."

Demand from employers

But Universities UK said the alliance had failed to understand developments in higher education or the labour market.

"Had they done a little more research, they would have found that these so-called 'non-courses' are in fact based on demand from employers and developed in association with them," a spokesman said.

Universities should make more provision for subjects and skills that are relevent and have a proper workplace outcome
Iain, Doncaster

"Graduates on these courses are in demand from employers who are looking for people with specific skills alongside the general skills acquired during a degree such as critical-thinking, team-working, time-management and IT skills - a point lost on the authors of this rag-bag of prejudices and outdated assumptions.

"Students know this - which is why these courses are often over-subscribed and have high employability rates."

He said golf management - one of the courses derided by the alliance - involved business, management and accounting as well as practical experience at golf courses.

"This is academic snobbery, as predictable as it is unfounded."

'Mickey Mouse' degrees defended
24 Jan 06 |  UK Politics
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06 Oct 04 |  South West Wales
Teachers attack 'hobby degrees'
26 Jul 04 |  Education
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14 Jan 03 |  Education

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