Boxing Tory MP bashes “Mickey Mouse” degree in surf studies

July 7, 2009 at 3:13 pm 1 comment

daviddavies

A Welsh Conservative MP has launched a stinging attack on some degree courses being offered by British universities.

David Davies, who is a keen amateur boxer, told the House during a debate on young people and the recession that he does not have a degree, “but I am quite happy with that fact.”

He later expanded on his thoughts on the nature of skills, which led the Deputy Speaker to intervene.

“I study history as an interest and what I have learned is that since man started herding animals together, all societies have had four requirements: food, shelter, construction and an ability to make tools to make life better for the next generation. Those are the basic fundamentals of any economy,” he told MPs.

“What are we doing wrong?

“In the short time that I was on the internet looking through university degrees this afternoon, I managed to discover the problem.

“Many degrees that we offer will simply not lead to the jobs to which people aspire—indeed, they will probably lead to no jobs.

“The work of 10 minutes revealed that the University of Plymouth offers a degree in surf studies.

“I do not have a degree, but I spent 20 years surfing, week in, week out in Wales, and I know that there are only about four jobs that one could get with a degree in surfing: surf instructor; working in a surf shop; surf board designer, which simply requires a practical frame of mind, and surfing professional—a handful of people manage that every year, and nobody checks whether they have a degree. That is not much use to anyone.”

Mr Davies then turned his fire on Thames Valley university’s three-year science degree in culinary arts management.

“I asked myself, what is that? It is something to do with being a pastry chef.

“My favourite example was from Metropolitan university, which is offering something called game studies.

“For a minute, I optimistically thought that it might be something to do with game theory, a respected branch of economics, but no.

“One clicks on the link to read that ‘videogames have emerged as a major new force,’ blah-de-blah, ‘contemporary culture,’ and so on, and that the course will ‘allow you to study them academically,’ but with ‘theoretical’ and ‘practical approaches.’

“Apparently, the course ‘covers the nationally recognised Game Study syllabus’ whatever that is ‘and is excellent career preparation.'”

David Lammy, Minister for Higher Education, pointed out that “the games industry is now a bigger part of our creative economy than the music industry.”

Mr Davies said he had “nothing against” the games industry.

“I have nothing against PlayStations either; indeed, I used to have one.

“What I have a problem with is people writing a thesis on how to get to level 10 on Grand Theft Auto.

“I do not think that that is a good use of three years or of the taxpayer’s money, nor do I think that it will lead to a job.”

He said that the UK has had to import workers for the Olympics construction projects and to work on North Sea oil rigs.

“We are dependent on the Middle East for our oil and on the Russians for our gas. We do not even have a nuclear industry any more—we are dependent on the French for that, having destroyed our own nuclear industry. Those are jobs that we could have created.

“When stone-age man was making tools out of bones and things …”

At this point Deputy Speaker Sylvia Heal intervened.

“Order. I hope that in the time remaining the hon. Gentleman will concentrate his remarks on the motion,” she said.

Mr Davies said that the government’s focus on the creative industries was counterproductive.

“We are importing people from abroad because we do not have the necessary skills.

“We are shutting science departments in various universities, closing chemistry laboratories and stopping physics courses so that the right hon. Gentleman can push his idea of the creative industries for people.

“We are pushing more than 50 per cent. of the population through university to do Mickey Mouse degrees—at great cost to the taxpayer and themselves, because they come out with all sorts of debt—yet we still cannot match the skills that are required to the skills that we produce.

“That is what is wrong.

“I look forward to somebody—anybody—following up on the Prime Minister’s promise and creating British jobs for British workers.”

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Aclarkson  |  October 16, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    couldnt agree more

    Reply

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