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‘RIP-OFF’ University Degrees: Are Students REALLY Being Scammed?

Rishi Sunak university degrees


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Political Tilt

& Emotional Tone


The article has a center-right bias, as it mainly supports the government’s policy to limit underperforming university courses and criticizes opposition views.
Generated using artificial intelligence.


The emotional tone is slightly negative, reflecting concerns about the quality of certain university courses and the potential negative impact on students.
Generated using artificial intelligence.



 | By Richard Ahern “Rip-off” degrees are facing a purge by the United Kingdom government. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak plans to chop the courses that scam students and lead nowhere in the professional world.

Here’s what we’re looking at:

Under the new rules, universities will now face restrictions on the number of students they can enroll in underperforming courses. This scheme is intended to curb the incidence of degrees that don’t lead to graduate jobs.

The government is looking to the Office for Students (OfS) to enforce these measures — restricting the number of students that universities can recruit to courses that do not provide “good outcomes.”

Courses with high drop-out rates or a low proportion of students finding professional work post-graduation will be included. This comes on the heels of OfS data revealing that nearly three in ten graduates do not secure highly-skilled jobs or further study within 15 months of graduating.

These new rules would require the regulator to limit student numbers for these underperforming courses. The minimum performance thresholds for courses state that at least 60% of students go on to professional work or further study within 15 months of graduating. In addition, to avoid restriction, the course must have a completion rate of at least 75%.

What the numbers say:

Data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) published in 2020 showed that a large swath of degrees had negative lifetime returns when accounting for loans and taxes.

Students who graduated in creative arts and social care had lifetime returns of around £-100k and £-50k, respectively. Medicine and economics students reaped the greatest positive returns of about £500k.

The general trend suggested that degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) saw positive lifetime returns. In contrast, art-based degrees were generally a poor investment for students.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats criticized the move:

Labour argues that the plan will pose new hurdles to opportunity, especially in areas with fewer graduate jobs. Labour’s shadow education secretary, Bridget Phillipson, declared the announcement “an attack on the aspirations of young people.”

The Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, Munira Wilson, accused the Prime Minister of running out of ideas, branding the policy a “cap on aspiration.”

Universities UK, an advocacy group, asserts that university education remains a significant investment for most students. They caution that actions must be “targeted and proportionate, and not a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

Yet, despite the backlash, the government remains resolute in its endeavor. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan assures that “These new measures will crack down on higher education providers that continue to offer poor quality courses and send a clear signal that we will not allow students to be sold a false promise.”

Similarly, Prime Minister Sunak expressed concern over young people being “sold a false dream” and ending up on poor-quality courses that taxpayers fund.

“That is why we are taking action to crack down on rip-off university courses, while boosting skills training and apprenticeships provision,” said Sunak in a press release.

There’s more…

The government has announced plans to cut the maximum fees universities can charge for classroom-based foundation-year courses from £9,250 to £5,760. This applies to courses designed to help prepare students for degrees with specific entry requirements, such as medicine and veterinary sciences.

This move has also drawn criticism. University Alliance calls the reduction in fees “disappointingly regressive,” claiming it “makes them financially unviable to deliver.” Chief executive Vanessa Wilson raised concerns over disadvantaged students and the “Covid generation” who would lose out if this provision is lost.

Time will tell how these measures will impact the future of higher education in the UK, but the data clearly shows some degrees are, indeed, a rip-off.

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