Harlow MP Robert Halfon: On Ukraine, “Mickey Mouse degrees” and by-elections

Politics / Sun 23rd Jul 2023 at 08:39am

WE OFTEN try to catch up with Harlow MP Robert Halfon on a Friday when he is out and about in his constituency.

On this occasion, we spoke to Mr Halfon after a special reception to re name a road in honour of the President of Ukraine.

We spoke to Robert Halfon about Ukraine but we also spoke to him about his recent media rounds defending the “crackdown on Mickey Mouse university courses” and then we also asked him to reflect on Thursday night by-elections.

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8 Comments for Harlow MP Robert Halfon: On Ukraine, “Mickey Mouse degrees” and by-elections:

2023-07-23 20:29:56

I didn't bother looking at the video - on the subject of made up culture wars, did Robert give any better indication as to exactly what he thinks are “Mickey Mouse degrees”? Did he say exactly what degree course, exactly which university, are "good" or "not good"? https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jul/23/dopey-rip-off-degree-plan-is-beyond-this-tory-education-minister "The task of eating a half-baked policy pie full of untested opinion goulash live on TV on a Monday morning fell to the hapless MP for Harlow, education minister Robert Halfon, a man who occupies so many contradictory positions as to appear almost without corporeal form, like a Happy Shopper bag swirling round and round in a gust of wind in a bin store behind one of those adult shops on the A1."

Cllr James Griggs
2023-07-24 07:37:57

If that was an example of him clarifying something let’s hope he never tries to hide stuff from us. He still can’t, or won’t, answer the question about which degrees are ‘Mickey Mouse’. If, as he says, it’s not his job to identify them he shouldn’t be spouting this nonsense and undermining the hopes and aspirations of students. Not all degrees lead to big bucks job and nor should they, some are about personal achievement and development which is very important, but it’s always about money with the tories. They know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

James Leppard
2023-07-24 09:34:38

The Blair policy of making university education open to all has led to many institutions converting to become universities, including former polytechnics and colleges of further education. It is obvious that a change of name does not automatically equate to academic excellence. There has been a plethora of new subjects elevated to degree level: media studies, society, culture and media, performance analysis, etc. Students opting for such courses often incur significant debts yet never attain the earnings required to repay them, meaning that they are written off at public expense. At the same time, the country and the economy need more scientists, engineers, medical doctors and mathematicians. These demanding disciplines should be encouraged and incentivised. It would be far better to give students studying these subjects grants or lower fees rather than wasting taxpayer money on writing off debts for those choosing 'softer' degrees that offer greatly inferior prospects. It was noticeable at my wife's Master's graduation last week how comparatively few students had studied sciences and other 'hard' disciplines. University education should always be about excellence, but it should not confer automatic superior status. Our MP is right in encouraging more high level vocational apprenticeships, as university education is not the optimal path for everyone. As technology advances, we need a highly skilled workforce.

Andrew Turvey
2023-07-24 10:21:45

Yes Hugo, he did clarify this. The way government works - in this case and others - is the minister sets the policy and then the independent regulator applies it to the specific university and specific course. This is a fairer system, because it avoids ministers having to make individual decisions where they could be accused of favouritism, bias, corruption etc. He's quite right to avoid naming specific universities and courses and GMB knew that when they ambushed him with this question. Halfon was clear about the policy in this video: courses which have high drop out rates, low completion rates or where many graduates go on to work in low-pay jobs will be subject to enrolment caps until they resolve their issues. Quality over Blair's single focus on Quantity. Sounds like a great policy to me - in fact well overdue.

David Forman
2023-07-24 12:58:24

Councillor Leppard has made a better case for reexamining the types of courses that attract public money than has Robert Halfon. However, I would still argue that education is as much about improving ones mind as it is about finding a decent job at the end of ones studies. Personal freedom is also a key issue, something which a libertarian Conservative party should be concerned about.

Luke Burton
2023-07-24 21:08:37

I certainly wouldn't mind a reduction in my effective tax rate (i.e. additional bracket + NI + 9% for student loans) by virtue of having read Computer Science at university - maybe Cllr Leppard should raise this with his colleagues in government.

Luke Burton
2023-07-24 21:10:29

Student loans are a social mobility tax if anything. I'm getting punished heavily each month because I wasn't fortunate enough to be born into a family that could afford to pay for all of my £9,250 + living costs for 3+ years.

Mark Gough
2023-08-30 23:24:42

Wow! So you disapprove of University being open to all do you Councillor Leppard? So who would you stop from going? Blair actually set a target of 50% of 18 year olds attending University. But then again they brought in Tuition fees and no Government has overturned them. The only thing overturned is the Lib.Dems credibility! Also Councillor you are wrong about making everything with a Student over 18 becoming a University being a Labour thing. That was actually the Major Government!

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