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`Mickey Mouse' degrees rapped.

Byline: By Daniel Thomson

Hobby subjects `unworthy of study'

The Government's drive to get more people into university is being blamed for the rise in "Mickey Mouse" degrees, it was claimed last night.

Degree courses at North-East universities such as Entertainment Technology, Equestrian Studies and the MA in Computer Games at Northumbria University are "unworthy" of serious study according to Peter Morris of the Professional Association of Teachers.

Mr Morris last night claimed that degrees such as these devalue serious education and have only been introduced to increase university numbers.

But North university chiefs last night said that university is not just for finding a job ( it is about learning skills that will serve you throughout your life.

At its annual conference on Wednesday, the PAT is expected to demand that the Government scrap its target of getting 50pc of under 30s through higher education by 2010 and put more money into vocational degrees.

Mr Morris said: "You have to have a degree that's worth having. If it is not worth having then the whole of academia is devalued. And I do believe that these degrees are devaluing academia full stop.

"By doing vocational courses, the non-academic students can achieve something, and it's the feeling of achievement that is important."

Last night a Durham University spokesman said: "University is not simply about getting a job, it is about training your mind to operate and express itself, to understand the world ( skills which qualify you for numerous jobs.

"A degree is not cheap to put on and a university does not run a new degree if there is not a demand for it. Degrees reflect society and in the last few years leisure and entertainment have grown massively.

"You cannot say that a video games degree is not vocational because the electronics and computer games industry is thriving at the moment.

"The whole point of university is to provide choices for young people and today's universities offer a huge range of degrees from academic to those focused on a particular profession."

Mr Morris, who teaches Information Technology at Bishop Gore School in Swansea, believes that hobbies are not worthy of being turned into subjects for academic study.

He was particularly scathing in his criticism of a degree in Surf and Beach Management at Swansea Institute of Higher Education.

"If it is a degree, surely it has to be something that adds to the country's heritage and our nation.

"Surfing is a hobby, not a subject. It doesn't contribute to the gross domestic product of this country in any significant amount at all."

Last year, the former Minister for Higher Education Margaret Hodge caused controversy when she said that many "Mickey Mouse" degree courses will disappear and be replaced by more vocational courses.

The University of Northumbria vice-chancellor responded to this comment by saying that Margaret Hodge must have a "profound misunderstanding of universities".
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 26, 2004
Words:482
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