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Employer-led degrees "controversial"

22 May 2007

Employer-led degrees "controversial" Government plans to allow employers to influence what degrees universities offer have been questioned by a leading educational thinktank.

A recent government-commissioned study by Lord Leitch argued that employers should potentially be able to determine what degrees universities offer.

By asking employers to co-fund certain courses, the scheme would aim to provide more targeted, vocational training and get a greater proportion of the population educated to degree level.

However, in a new report the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) says there are risks involved in such a strategy.

As the BBC reports, The HEPI report emphasises: "There is a risk that what employers want will often not be what students want - especially where courses depend on attracting students who are not employees of an employer-customer.

"This process can be taken only so far."

Many commentators are uneasy that the demand for courses may no longer be led by what school-leavers actually want to study.

However, Bill Rammell, the further education minister, insisted that such fears are misplaced.

He said: "We are not moving to employer-led demand at the expense of student demand - we're doing both."

He continued by saying that in order to encourage more people into higher education we "need to refocus some - but not all - of the higher education sector to widen participation amongst older people".

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