An education minister has railled against a system that favours a degree in “Harry Potter studies” over more practical qualifications – even though there’s little to suggest JK Rowling’s boy wizard is crowding out other subjects.
Andrea Jenkyns, minister for skills, further and higher education, told a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference how education is not the “sole preserve” of universities.
She argued a “skilled modern economy” requires technical skills as much as it needs graduates, and criticised the “current system” for favouring degrees in “Harry Potter studies”.
To this end, the Tory frontbencher said, the government is committed to cracking down on low-quality university courses.
It’s unclear what precisely Jenkyns is referring to when she raises “Harry Potter studies”.
Twelve years ago, undergraduates at the Durham University were offered an optional 10-week module called Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion as part of a BA degree in education studies.
Some on Twitter pointed out while there was no evidence of anyone currently reading “Harry Potter studies”, thousands of students were studying a subject related to construction.
Jenkyns also insisted that in some cases universities feed students “a diet of critical race theory, anti-British history and sociological Marxism” and that the government is determined to provide an alternative.
She told the Bruges Group event: “A skilled modern economy competing on the global stage requires technical skills just as much as it needs graduates.
“Yet the current system would rather our young people get a degree in Harry Potter studies than the apprentices shaping construction.
“It doesn’t take magic powers to work out that this is wrong, which is why the government is committed to putting the broomstick to good use and carrying out a spring clean of low-quality courses.”
Jenkyns insisted “if a course isn’t providing someone with a positive outcome”, it makes “no sense” the government “should be funding it”.
She added: “I’m determined to make sure that the skills we give our young people are fit for the future, in some cases they simply aren’t getting this at universities.
“They’re being fed a diet of critical race theory, anti-British history and sociological Marxism, which is why this government is determined to provide an alternative.”
Jenkyns faced a backlash last month after she gave the middle finger to a crowd outside Downing Street.
The Morley and Outwood MP claimed she was responding to a “baying mob” when she made the gesture.
She was appointed parliamentary under secretary of state in the department for education by Boris Johnson in July after he was hit by a wave of ministerial resignations, and was re-appointed by Liz Truss despite criticism after video footage emerged of her confronting the crowd outside Number 10.