There is a proliferation of strange courses offered to students that do little to further their career prospects. With tuition fees set to rise threefold it is now urgent that universities offer educations that return that value. Ben Wood reports.
Last year 300,000 students sat their A-Levels at colleges and sixth forms across the country. Among the most popular subjects were the traditionally favourable maths, English and sciences, and of course the more excusable lessons which contribute to the Mickey Mouse choices:
Film studies, photography and physical education are all courses that attract floods of pupils, but for all the wrong reasons. With the desire to attain careers in the vocational areas, some subjects are over-subscribed with teens believing the courses are easy routes to their dream job, but in truth are rarely recognised by employers and universities alike.
In 2010, Trinity College of Oxford University publicly divided the 62 available A-Levels when they produced a list of the 37 that are of “more limited suitability”. So, that’s 60% of A-Levels which are worthless, unnaccepted and rather frankly a waste of time.
Why we are funding these useless qualifications, and more importantly why we are pushing tens of thousans of intelligent young adults into courses without a prosperous outcome?
These money-squandering qualifications aren’t just limited to A-Levels. The art & design degree available at Cleveland College is an applicable example: Six months after graduation, 30% of those that had found work were employed as sale assistants and retail cashiers, whereas only 5% were working within the design sector.
The problem doesn’t always stem from the subject. Degrees in the field of business often deliver graduates into thriving careers, but of those that have graduated with the same type degree from The London University of Arts, only 21% claimed they were satisfied with the quality of the course they received.
So what do we do about this epidemic? Well, each school is already required to employ a careers advisor to steer students onto the right course, but they won’t comment on whether certain A-Levels are more respected than others for fear of a backlash from colleges.
The only solution in my mind would be to engage in a reformation scheme. This would entail serving the examination boards with an ultimatum: Correct the courses to a state in which Russell Group universities would be happy to welcome them, or face striking the subjects off. At no cost to the tax payer and no mass redundancies, I fail to see a flaw.
Thirty five percent of A-Level students go onto university. If they were educated against opting for black listed subjects more would be accepted, more would be further qualified and our nation would be much better educated.
Then the matter of failing degrees: Unless universities drastically improve by reaching set government targets, they should be given a severe fine and no longer permitted to award the qualification.
And what about subjects that don’t serve a purpose and rarely lead to the once desired job? I say we should invest further to warn students of the facts, and too advertise that these “Mickey Mouse” degrees very rarely lead to careers in the specified field.
With the recent rise in tuition fees – the young students of our country must be told how it is. We shouldn’t be allowing them to waste in excess of £50,000 on what they believe is more prosperous than it actually is. And if this indeed continues, we must place the blame firmly onto the universities by pressing them with watchdogs and threatening them with cuts to courses.