Who wears the ears?

February 21, 2003

So higher education minister Margaret Hodge blames universities for providing "Mickey Mouse" courses ("Mickey Mouse row revived", THES , February 14). She and successive governments need to look in the mirror.

University expansion and vastly increased auditing are the real culprits.

Ever more students lead to the presence of many more poorly motivated ones who are at university only to get paper qualifications and demanding to be spoonfed by cartoon-strip methods.

This is not a question of their "intelligence", as die-hard rightwing critics usually put it, but of their lack of academic curiosity. Auditing their learning is totally inappropriate. The so-called "quality assessment" should be called "quantity assessment", as it is really about increasing student throughput by easily measured mass-production teaching methods.

If we have dumbed down, it is because Mickey Mouse governments have forced us to.

Phil Cerny
Professor of government
University of Manchester

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