Jenkyns: universities offer ‘Harry Potter studies’ and ‘Marxism’

Minister’s comments at Conservative conference reignite culture wars over universities

October 3, 2022
London UK - June 16 2016 Platform 9 three-quarter at Kings Cross Station with unidentified people. The platform is a fictive one from Harry Potter movies installed at Kings Cross for tourists
Source: iStock

The higher education system is producing degrees in “Harry Potter studies” and universities are feeding students “anti-British history and sociological Marxism”, making a “spring clean of low-quality courses” essential, according to the minister responsible for higher education.

Andrea Jenkyns, the skills minister, made the comments at a Conservative conference fringe event on “Getting Brexit done to turn the economy around”, hosted by the anti-European Union Bruges Group thinktank.

University courses were offering “critical race theory, anti-British history and sociological Marxism”, the minister claimed.

“A skilled modern economy competing on the global stage requires technical skills just as much as it needs graduates,” she added.

“Yet the current system would rather our young people get a degree in Harry Potter studies than the apprenticeships shaping construction.

“It doesn’t take magic powers to work out that this is wrong, which is why the government is committed to putting the broomstick to good use and carrying out a spring clean of low-quality courses.”

The comments will disappoint those who had hoped for an end to the “culture wars” approach to higher education under the Liz Truss government.

Political commentator Sam Freedman, a former adviser to Michael Gove in the Department for Education, tweeted: “Number of students currently studying architecture, building, planning and engineering = 245,395. Number currently studying ‘Harry Potter Studies’ = 0.”

He added: “Broader point here – anti-HE Tories of which, sadly, the HE Minister is one – seem to think everyone does humanities degrees. But around three-quarters of students are studying sciences, business or law. They’re choosing vocational courses.”

The Bruges Group subsequently tweeted its thanks to Ms Jenkyns “for having the guts to lay bare the leftist indoctrination which awaits students in the British higher education system. The subsequent lefty meltdown on Twitter only proves she’s right.”

john.morgan@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (4)

Interesting that Kwasi Kwarteng has a PhD in Economic history so having a vocationally relevant degree doesn't necessarily make you good at the job. Can the same broomstick be used to clean out low quality ministers ?
Ill informed, sad and somewhat disturbing coming from a minister. Perhaps next year the fringe meeting will also see a discussion on removing all books and material that do not subscribe to a defined way of thinking from university libraries!
Are these hard right thinktanks paying THE for exposure? Looks like they got a "2 for 1" deal in this issue. Do members of these thinktanks actually believe what they're saying - they can't do surely? - or is it just to deliberately provoke division? Thankfully this sort of bile will be consigned to the dustbin in a couple of years.
Are these hard right thinktanks paying THE for exposure? Looks like they got a "2 for 1" deal in this issue. Do members of these thinktanks actually believe what they're saying - they can't do surely? - or is it just to deliberately provoke division? Thankfully this sort of bile will be consigned to the dustbin in a couple of years.

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