Britain must end ‘obsession’ with university degrees, says influential Tory MP.

The Huffington Post reports that the chairman of the Commons Education Committee Robert Halfon, sees many graduates getting “paltry returns” for university study, while the country is grappling with a skills shortage ahead of Brexit.

In a speech to the Centre for Social Justice think tank on Monday, he will call for a radical “rebalancing” of the whole system to address the needs of students and employers. 

“We have become obsessed with full academic degrees in this country,” he will say. “We are creating a higher education system that overwhelmingly favours academic degrees, while intermediate and higher technical offerings are comparatively tiny.” 

Halfon will point out that currently between a fifth and a third of graduates end up taking non-graduate jobs with the “graduate premium” varying “wildly” according to course and institution.

He will call for a major expansion of degree apprenticeships, where students earn as they learn without incurring “mountains of debt”, while arguing that those universities which do not provide a good return on academic courses should reinvent themselves as centres of technical excellence.

“Universities are an integral part of the machinery that feeds into the jobs market. It is reasonable to hold them accountable for the extent to which they prepare students for the world of work.”

Of the 59 higher education providers that received a gold standard in the Government’s teaching excellence framework, he will point out that 51 were not in the “elite” Russell Group of universities.

When it came to The Economist’s “value-added” university rankings, which compares graduates’ wages with what they would have been expected to earn if they had not gone to that university, the list was topped by Portsmouth University followed by Aston University, neither of which are in the Russell Group.

Read more Britain must end ‘obsession’ with university degrees, says influential Tory MP.

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