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‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees should come with a health warning, minister says

·2-min read
university lecture
university lecture

Adverts for university degrees should include “health warnings” to prevent students from signing up to courses that are low value for money, the Government has said.

Under new guidance published today, universities are being told to show data that will help students make an “informed decision” on what to study for better job prospects after they graduate.

Higher and further education minister Michelle Donelan told PA news agency that, “just as every advert for a loan or credit card must include basic information like the APR, every university advert should include comparable data on drop-out rates and the progression rate of students into graduate jobs or further study.”

She warned that “bold university advertising” can pull students into courses that the statistics say are really a “dead-end”.

Universities are under mounting pressure to ensure their courses give students a decent financial return. Earlier this week Sheffield Hallam University suspended its "low value" English Literature degree for the 2023-24 cohort, ahead of threats from the Office for Students, the higher-education watchdog, that universities will be hit with fines if they fail to get 60pc of graduates into a professional job.

Last week Telegraph Money revealed which degrees are the worst value for money. People who studied photography – the lowest-ranking course – at university were earning just £24,785 a year on average five years after graduating.

That’s not enough to start paying back student debt, which for recent graduates only begins to be repaid once income exceeds £27,295 a year. Since the advent of £9,000-a-year tuition fees, graduates typically leave university with around £45,000 of student loans. Most are not expected to pay back the loans before they expire after 30 years.

The analysis also found that around 40pc of university degrees do not lead to an average salary above £30,000 within five years.

Laura-Jane Rawlings, managing chief executive at Youth Employment UK, welcomed the new guidance, saying the inclusion of data on employment rates on course adverts would help young people “transition into better jobs” after university.

“The employment market is strong right now, but a good job is never guaranteed,” she said. “Young people need to make better choices – and the only way they can do that is with the right information. It’s on universities to provide that data.”

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