Blog MP shares vision of slashing academia

November 23, 2007

Half the university courses on offer should be scrapped, and the brightest students should be paid to go to university.

These are the views of an MP who is set to scrutinise government policy on higher education, writes Rebecca Attwood.

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has just been appointed a member of the new House of Commons Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee. In a blog on her website this week she recounted a meeting with John Hayes, the Conservative Shadow Minister for Universities and Skills.

Ms Dorries - dubbed "Queen of the bloggers" after winning a Tory award for her blogging prowess - said she felt the need to "warn him" of her thoughts on university education.

"I told him we needed fewer universities, not more, and that half of the courses on offer should be scrapped," wrote Ms Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire, who recently hit the headlines when she and Tory MP Bob Spink published a minority report challenging the Science and Technology Committee's findings that the 24-week limit for abortions should remain.

She called for an end to the Government's target of 50 per cent participation in higher education by young people and said that the brightest students should, through grants, be paid to attend university and not be put in a position where they start their working lives "up to their necks" in debt.

"I believe that half of the students at university in this country are attending inappropriate courses, and are being forced into a system of education that makes them unhappy, shatters their confidence and belief in themselves," she said. "Walk around any halls of residence at the moment and spot the unhappy students ... Speak to the student welfare officer and ask how many students are on antidepressants; look at the dropout rate by the end of the first year."

Her daughter's room at university was "smaller that a prison cell". However, she added, a prisoner would not have had to put up with the cockroaches.


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