Letter to Editor: Robert Halfon and “Mickey Mouse degrees”

Education: Secondary / Tue 18th Jul 2023 at 10:01am

Dear Editor,

I HAVE just watched Harlow MP Robert Halfon (and minister of state for education) do the rounds on national tv regarding the “crackdown on Mickey Mouse degrees”.

The irony of referring to jobs with ‘poor employment outcomes’ is hilarious. I doubt Mr Halfon’s current employers, the Harlow electorate, would judge that outpouring of nonsensical word soup from their employee as having been a positive outcome of the expenditure on Mr Halfon’s degree.

The problem is, he never answered the questions. Surely if you are going on national TV to represent the Government you should go armed with examples of the degree courses you consider to be poor, rip-off or Mickey Mouse.

Halfon was asked several time to list some and lamentably failed on each occasion. It was beyond embarrassing.

It seems he is unable to offer an explanation of the judging criteria. Is it all about well paying jobs for degree holders or is there any notion of social worth from degrees achieved?

An artist with a good degree in the subject may never earn big bucks but that does not mean their work has no worth.

Similarly, a musician may use their skills and knowledge, honed by years of hard work at University, to educate in the community at a poor rate of pay. Does their work not have integrity and worth unless they are earning mega money?

A degree in Social Care is a worthy and desirable thing to have but no-one goes to work in that sector in the expectation of becoming rich.

This blustering nonsense from Halfon and Sunak appears to be solely about people being paid enough to repay student loans and therein lies the problem.

This Govt has systematically undermined and undervalued workers across multiple sectors of society and driven down pay, and now tells people struggling with the cost of living crisis that to give them a real terms pay rise would drive up inflation.

They really can’t have it both ways. As ever, this conservative Govt knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.


Labour Councillor James Griggs (Netteswell)

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10 Comments for Letter to Editor: Robert Halfon and “Mickey Mouse degrees”:

2023-07-18 19:42:21

Robert is correct the value of a degree has been eroded over the last 30 years, a recent survey of over 6000 workers found that 17% of waiters had a degree, 14% of retail staff and 15% of care worker had a degree, what we need is a change of focus from university education for all to a focus on apprenticeships with young people learning skills that the country needs.

2023-07-18 21:39:42

Pedro makes much sense. Many people are studying for degrees that add little value to them or society. In fact, many are incurring large debts with no appreciable benefits. This country needs more engineers, scientists, doctors and mathematicians. People wishing to study these subjects should be offered strong incentives over somebody that wants to opt for media studies or social studies, which academically and intellectually far less challenging. Why not make it more market driven, with incentives for those that choose tough degrees that are in demand and up the fees etc for media studies, etc. This would introduce natural pruning. Pedro also makes the point about apprenticeships. Many people who are not so academically inclined should not be slighted. We always need skilled people and new skills are emerging in information technology and other areas where top level education and training are needed, but not necessarily through a standard degree. The devaluation and distortion of university education was the invention of Blair's Labour government. Starmer's pitiful response shows that Labour has no new vision of ideas.

David Forman
2023-07-19 09:35:45

Pedro and Marie make the Conservative Party election broadcast that the plebs must study something that will benefit Tory party big business donors. How dare the plebs study something that enriches their minds.

Guy Flegman
2023-07-19 11:08:29

Why does everyone pick on Mickey Mouse? Surely there is room in our inclusive and diverse culture for a cheerful little mouse.

Mark Gough
2023-07-19 17:35:12

Firstly, I don't see anyone talking about class Mr.Forman, only you talking you usual keyboard nonsense. I don't actually see the real point of Mr.Halfon's interview being understood. Under Labour we had ridiculous arbitrary targets for everything - including 50% of A'level students going to University. What this led to was a lack skilled job training and a massive lack of Apprenticeships. The latter, to his credit is one thing Mr.Halfon has done something about. The number of Apprenticeships in Parliament has gone right up. However, this hasn't followed into things like Bricklaying, Glazers, Carpentery, Plumbing, Electricians, Gardening, Cleaning Repairing and cleaning roads, Drivers for Public Transport and so on. In fact discussions continue about whether Nursing and Social Care should be practical degrees and whether or not to bring back the State Registered Nurse. What we have recently heard is that we haven't got enough Bricklayers, Carpenters, Roofers etc. to build the planned houses! So what is the plan - bring in people from Abroad. But where are they going to live whilst they build??? It's time we had a good look at Education and Skills in our Country and thought about what we need and who we need to train. Playground Politics on this, like the NHS, will never get results! Mark Gough - Reform UK

Tony WIseman
2023-07-20 07:59:06

Sadly both Mr Griggs and Mr Foreman have trotted out the same old blame someone else rhetoric. It was Tony Blair who chose to concentrate on University degrees and to completely ignore the need for skilled people such as those listed by Mr Gough. And as for plebs not improving their minds. Really! Does it not take skill and intelligence to know how to set up electrical circuits in a home or work environment, or to know how to plumb or how to build? Recent studies have proven that learning any new skill improves your life chances. So come on Mr Griggs and Mr Foreman, what are your plans to improve the education and training of those who do not want, or cannot afford, to attend university?

Keith H
2023-07-20 11:07:23

In total agreement with Mark Gough. As always, its a case of lions (the public) led by donkeys (politicians and do-gooders), There is a total lack of common sense everywhere you look.

Tracy George
2023-07-20 15:58:02

If someone wants to go do a degree in the arts or something more vague, like history, let them. First of all, they are young adults who go, it gives them time to think of a career. They learn other things at uni, not just their subject. Secondly, more importantly, they are paying. The student fees are stupidly expensive but if someone wants to spend their money on getting a degree that has little to do with their eventual career then it is up to them what the money is spent on and nobody should be dictating otherwise.

David Forman
2023-07-21 03:35:23

For Mr Wiseman's benefit, I too am no fan of Tony Blair's emphasis on university education. To improve matters for the less academic, I would reintroduce the industrial training boards that offered high quality training for decades before a Thatcher led Conservative government scrapped them. I would also vastly reduce the fees for Open University courses, as Labour prime minister Harold Wilson intended them to be available for the lowest paid workers. I would also, like many trade unions, redesign the apprentice levy, possibly by reverting to the funding formulas used the industrial training boards. Vocational training should be based on block release of 12 to 16 weeks in college each year, as was my Post Office Telecoms apprenticeship. External design and verification of on the job learning objectives and skills assessments should be set by a board comprising business leaders, academics and trade unions. Finally, all apprentices should be paid a decent wage that increments each year based on learning outcomes.

Dec Han
2023-07-21 09:21:25

Typical MP when asked a question just swerve round and just continue to spout words from your mouth hoping no one’s actually noticed you not answering the question you was originally asked 😳🤪😳🤪 got the idea now 🤣😂🤣😂

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