Sunak vows to clamp down on low-achieving college degrees

Rishi Sunak during a husting event in Eastbourne (PA) (PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak during a husting event in Eastbourne (PA) (PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak promised to phase out university degrees that do not improve students’ “earning potential”, create a Russell Group of world-class technical colleges and introduce a British Bachelor’s degree that would prevent 16-year-olds from dropping out of math and English.

The Conservative leadership said its plans to reform post-16 education mark “a significant step towards parity of esteem between vocational and academic education”.

If he becomes the next prime minister, Sunak will strengthen the networks of technical institutions and their links with industry, as well as empowering them to award degrees, his campaign said.

(These proposals) will take a tougher approach to college degrees that burden students with debt without improving their earning potential

Rishi Sunak

The former dean would evaluate university degrees through dropout rates, number of graduate jobs and salary limits, with the exception of nursing and other courses of high social value.

In an apparent attempt to appeal to the right, Sunak’s campaign said he would also expedite the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, which is currently in the House of Lords.

The government has argued that the bill is necessary to combat growing intolerance in universities, but opponents have said it aims to address a problem that does not exist and could protect hate speech.

Sunak also pledged to improve teachers’ professional development, commit to plans to open 75 new free schools announced by the government in June, and give schools a two-year “holiday from responsibility” after accepting underperforming schools.

He would also work to expand the use of artificial intelligence and digital technology in classrooms and reduce the workload on teachers.

Mr. Sunak said: “A good education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet when it comes to improving people’s lives.

“These proposals represent a significant step towards the esteem parity between professional and academic training. And they will take a tougher approach to college degrees that burden students with debt without improving their earning potential.

“I will also take bold and practical steps to build on the successful conservative education reforms of the last decade by leveraging technology and improving the quality of education in underperforming areas.

“Every child deserves a world-class education, and if I become prime minister, I will make it my mission from day one to make sure that is what they get.”

The former chancellor would also create a new British Baccalaureate, which would require students to continue studying core subjects such as math and English until they finish school at age 18.

In an interview with The Times, he criticized the “excessively narrow specialization” of the current curriculum, which he said did not prepare young people for “the economy of tomorrow”.

“We are almost unique in the Western world, for an advanced economy and all high-performing education systems, in allowing people to drop math and stop studying their native language at age 16,” he told the paper.

“In Germany, France, Asia, young people study math until the age of 18, and the way a modern economy works, I think it’s going to hold us back if our young people don’t have those skills.”

After studying at Winchester College, where he was Head Boy, and majoring in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford, Sunak earned an MBA from Stanford University in California.

His Conservative leadership rival, Liz Truss, presented herself as the “prime minister of education” with a plan to replace failed academies with new free schools, and a promise that students with A-grades would receive an automatic invitation to an interview. at Oxford or Cambridge. – which raised questions about whether the school year calendar would need to be changed.

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