Student numbers should be deeply slashed, and degrees such as ‘Gender Studies’ junked entirely, Monmouth’s MP has said.
Monmouth MP David Davies said quotas should decide numbers for ‘essential’ subjects like engineering and medicine, with ‘far more generous’ financial support made available through a deep cut in overall numbers.
Student figures have risen each year since records began, with 1.75m undergraduates and over half a million postgraduates in the UK.
Mr Davies said now almost 50 per cent of pupils go on to university, from under 20 per cent in the 1990s, meant degrees have fallen in value, with run-of-the-mill employers demanding graduates for positions once open to school leavers.
"I didn’t go to university and when I left school I had two Es at A-level, which isn’t an extraordinary academic result, but by the standards of the 1980s it was enough to go and get a job at a management trainee scheme at Tesco or one of these big companies," he said.
"Now they all want a degree because everyone’s got one. What I would do is slash the number of people going to university and I would slash the time it takes.”
The Conservative MP said degrees such as Gender Studies should be ‘scrapped’ entirely, with renewed focus on traditionally ‘strong’ subjects in law, medicine and engineering and more recognition
"I’m not saying scrap everything," he said. "We need people doing English and History, History’s very important, and Geography, but we don’t need quite as many and there are some that are a total waste.
“Plymouth is still doing Surf Studies, I think. I’ve gone through and looked at some of them and I’m horrified by it.
"The thought that some poor guy or girl is going to do three years, rack up a massive debt and think they’re coming out with something an employer values is laughable."
Mr Davies’ conservative opinion was met with fire from Kirsty Williams, the Welsh education secretary, who accused him of wanting to shut down university access for the poorest.
"I reject the notion of access to higher education being exclusively for the ’elites’.
"Unlike Mr Davies who wants to close down opportunities for learning, I am proud that from 2018/19 Wales will be the first country in Europe to introduce equivalent maintenance support across full-time and part-time undergraduates, as well as post-graduates.
"We believe every student that has the ability to attend university should have that opportunity.
"It’s good for individuals, good for society and helps improve prosperity for all.”