V-cs fight Mouse's corner

December 1, 2006

Vice-chancellors have launched a robust defence of so-called Mickey Mouse degrees in a paper that champions the worth of courses such as golf studies, surf science and brewing.

The report, nicknamed "The Mouse that Roared", says that disparaged subjects are meeting business needs and are making students more employable.

The study by Universities UK is backed by the Confederation of British Industry and the Department for Education and Skills. It says that degrees designed in collaboration with industry provide academic rigour and the knowledge needed for business.

Higher Level Learning: Universities and Employers Working Together says that in 2003 the media and fashion industry was worth £90 billion; by 2014 it would need 1.58 million more graduates. The sport and leisure industry was worth £9.8 billion in 2000 and 70 per cent of new positions in the sector will be at graduate level.

Drummond Bone, president of UUK, said: "Graduates with the skills developed on these courses are essential to the success of the UK economy. When an industry is worth billions of pounds, it is quite right that there should be a range of courses on offer to ensure a workforce with diverse or, in some cases, very specific skills."

Paul Hughes, director of the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University, said that over the past two years, 15 of the 17 graduates in brewing had got jobs in the industry. "Generally, those on the technical side of the industry are either from our degree course or from a similar one," he said.

Boris Johnson, Shadow Higher Education Minister, said it was not the business of politicians to "exterminate" so-called Mickey Mouse degrees.

"There are some courses that are not as taxing as they should be, but I believe in academic freedom," he said.

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