The British Prime Minister admits that the woke faculties are selling students a false future without mentioning them by name. Students are ending up with degrees that are leading them to nowhere. Unfortunately, Malta has been following this trend in its education. What students need are skills, and the government and universities should focus on creating courses that give skills to students to find a job and undertake both analytical and quantitative analysis.
Sunak does not name those courses that he described as low-quality, but it is clear that he has in mind those courses that have introduced the woke dictatorship in the West and were turned into a false science. The way forward, both in science and the humanities, is the return to the core subjects that have made these areas of studies so crucial in the past, and on which a whole civilization was built in Europe that was copied by the whole world!
Moreover, emphasis will be made in Britain on vocational training and studies. Britain is losing its skilled workers. Here in Malta, we have followed the British model and ended up in the same situation. However, Sunak admits that education needs significant cultural change. The progressive ideals had led the British educational system to nowhere. Governments are starting to admit that progressive ideals that had destroyed the West educational system are now the cause of an illusion in the upcoming young generation as many cannot find a proper job.
I want to build a better future for our children and grandchildren – a future they can look forward to with hope and optimism. And there’s no more powerful way of doing that than helping them acquire the skills to succeed. That’s why education is so important to me. And it’s why this Government is so focused on creating high-quality opportunities for all our children and young people.
We’re making real progress. Eighty-nine per cent of schools are now Good or Outstanding, up from 68 per cent in 2010. We’ve climbed the international league tables on literacy and are now best in the West for reading. And my campaign to transform our national approach to maths is designed to drive the same kind of progress on numeracy by building on existing reforms, because so many of the jobs our children aspire to do are going to depend on their quantitative and analytical skills.
Now we need to apply that same relentless focus on standards to higher education, too. Of course, we’re proud to have some of the top universities in the world. They equip generations of young people to become the innovators and problem-solvers who break new ground and tackle some of humanity’s greatest challenges – from the Covid vaccine to the promise of nuclear fusion.
But that’s not the experience for everyone. Too many of our young people are sold a false dream of going to university only to find they’re enrolled on low-quality courses that don’t offer the skills they need to get a decent job at the end of it.
Contrast that with apprenticeships or other vocational routes. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, one in five graduates in this country, about 70,000 every year, would be better off financially if they had not gone to university. And despite having studied for several years, one in three graduates are in a job that doesn’t require them to be degree-educated.
Fairness for taxpayers
Put simply: our young people are being ripped off. They’re being saddled with tens of thousands of pounds of debt from bad degrees that just leave them poorer, and dissuaded from pursuing more vocational options because they are led to believe that university is the only route to success. It’s not fair on them – and it’s not fair on you as taxpayers, forced to pick up a big chunk of the bill despite getting nothing back for our economy.
So we’re going to change the way our system works to end this unfairness. And to say to our young people: there are good alternatives to university.
First, we’ll address rip-off courses which are letting our young people down. We’ll limit the number of students that a university can recruit to a course if it’s not delivering good outcomes. We’ll change how we assess the quality of university courses so that students and parents can easily compare their earnings potential. And we’ll reduce the maximum fee that universities can charge for classroom-based foundation year courses which research shows have limited impact on students’ prospects.
But second, we also need to change our national mindset about the value of apprenticeships and vocational qualifications – and the opportunities to pursue them. It’s profoundly wrong that we have a long-standing cultural bias against practical, vocational training. What matters is getting the skills they need for the jobs they aspire to without being saddled with debt for years – and very often it’s an apprenticeship that can do this.
We’ve already taken big steps forward. Our £2.7 billion apprenticeship levy is helping to train thousands of people across the country in everything from high-precision aerospace engineering to audio-visual production. And our NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, the first in its history, includes ambitious plans to help young people to pursue apprenticeships in the NHS.
We’ve also set up new routes to teach vocational skills, like skills bootcamps. And T-levels offer on-the-job learning as a rigorous vocational alternative to A-levels.
Despite this, we know that some businesses, particularly smaller ones, can find it difficult to hire apprentices. So from Monday we’re cutting the amount of paperwork that businesses have to complete to register an apprentice. And we’ll create a new online resource to make it easier for students to view the skills options available to them.
These steps are just the beginning of the deeper cultural change we need. We’ll always be proud of our world-class universities – but we should have the same aspirations for world-class apprenticeships and vocational training too. Education and skills are the closest thing there is to a silver bullet. It’s the best social policy, the best economic policy and the best moral policy. And it’s the best way to build a better future for our children and grandchildren – that’s why I’m determined to deliver it.