BA Hon…estly?

Is a degree in ‘Surf Science’ is really worth it.

anglia ruskin Cambridge University degrees funding cuts McDonalds Oxbridge qualifications tesco UCAS

It’s Sunday night. You’re in Fez / Life / somewhere in between, and you’re dancing / grinding / something in between with a hottie. The mandatory question inevitably arises.

‘What college are you from?’

‘Oh, I’m not. I do Equine Studies at Anglia Ruskin.’

Oh dear. Now, don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with Equine Studies; I’m sure it’s a very valuable degree. Apparently it requires 5 GCSEs graded C or above and 100 UCAS points at A level. Now, I’m not entirely sure what a UCAS point actually is, or how to go about acquiring one, but 100 points does sound like quite a lot. And, as for Anglia Ruskin, I think the sign at Cambridge’s train station says it all: ‘Welcome to Cambridge – home of Anglia Ruskin University.’ Amazing.

We may mock horse boy from Anglia Ruskin, but Equine Studies really isn’t the oddest degree out there. What about Baking Technology Management at London South Bank University? Or Brewing and Distilling at Heroit-Watt University? Yes, you can argue that people on these courses are going to end up in baking or brewing jobs, and I’m sure they are, but do they really need a degree to learn how to bake or brew? Probably not.

And, the madness doesn’t end here. Nowadays, Tesco offers a foundation degree that involves learning how to ‘stack shelves efficiently’ and ‘display special offer signs.’ And, McDonald’s offer the equivalent of a GCSE in Work Skills for anyone who successfully completes a ten-day work experience placement.

We’re awarding national qualifications for work experience at McDonald’s? Fair enough, enduring 10 days at McDonald’s, probably warrants some kind of reward. But, this reward really shouldn’t come in the form of a qualification. Too far, Ronald, too far.

The sad thing is that it’s so easy to understand why people enrol on these utterly useless courses. At the moment, jobs are scarce: the current unemployment rate among young people stands at almost 20%. It seems sensible to look into further study as an alternative to going into employment straight away.

I once heard a girl on a train tell her friend that she was going to Bolton University. ‘Oh well, someone has to,’ retorted the hilarious eavesdropper on the seat behind me. The sad thing is, no one has to. No one has to go to Bolton.  You don’t need a degree to get on in life. What’s more, you certainly don’t need a 2:2 from Bolton University that’s going to deem you indistinguishable from every other average student out there. That is, if you even finish your course. Unsurprisingly for anyone who’s ever visited the hidden gem that is the city of Bolton, the dropout rate at the university is 35%. That compares to a dropout rate of just 2% at Oxbridge.

The fact is that not all degrees are valuable. We may mock the land economist that we end up sitting next to on a swap, but at least they’ll end up with a Cambridge degree. The government need to wake up and realise that cutting £950 million from the higher education, research and science budget across all universities, including Oxbridge, just isn’t a good idea. It might, however, be a good idea to cut the funding of courses such as Surf Science at Plymouth. Just a thought.

It’s great that more people are going to university and gaining degrees, but at a time when money desperately needs to be spent sparingly, it’s simply outrageous that mickey mouse degrees continue to be funded. Someone seriously needs to take a look at the education system and do some re-evaluation. Luring students into the false promise of gaining a job post-degree is irresponsible, when the reality is that many students will end up jobless and facing massive student debts.

And, if you disagree, you could always apply for a degree in Stand-up Comedy from Salford University. Peter Kay did. Enough said.