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‘Mickey Mouse’ Degrees Vital to the Economy

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So-called "Mickey Mouse" degrees are actually providing vital skills for a success economy, according to a new report.

Degree courses in subjects such as surfing, brewing and computer games were analysed in the study by vice-chancellors' group, Universities UK. Rather than devaluing academia, the group said they were preparing graduates for jobs in emerging and established industries.

The report looked at 26 universities which developed degrees alongside employers and found them effective.

Universities UK's (UUK) president, Professor Drummond Bone, said: "Critics and media commentators have sometimes referred disparagingly to some of these courses as Mickey Mouse degrees.

"While some of the degrees featured were unheard of a few years ago, graduates with the skills developed on these courses are essential to the success of the economy."

The Higher Level Learning report highlights degrees from universities which focus on business and enhancing employability.

Prof Bone said: “The case studies cover some key industries - the media and fashion industry, for example, is worth £90 billion a year to the economy and employs more than four million people, with high projected growth and demand for graduates in the future. When an industry is worth billions of pounds, it’s 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."

UUK’s publication comes ahead of the final report of Lord Leitch’s review Skills in the UK. In his interim report published last December, Lord Leitch underlined the “crucial” importance of higher level skills to the UK economy and the role that universities can play in delivering this.

In a foreword to Higher level learning, Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, said: "As the HE sector begins to operate in a competitive market, employer-led provision will enable delivery of the skills that the labour market needs, and that students want."

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