Rishi Sunak has vowed to phase out university degrees that do not improve students’ “earning potential” under plans to reform education if he becomes Britain’s next prime minister.
In the proposals announced tonight, the Tory leadership contender pledged to create a Russell Group of technical colleges.
The changes will mark “a significant step toward parity between vocational and academic education,” his campaign said.
Should he hit Liz Truss in the leadership contest, Mr. Sunak pledged to strengthen networks of technical institutions and their links with industry, as well as empowering them to award degrees.
“A good education is the closest we get to a silver bullet when it comes to making people’s lives better,” said the former chancellor.
He promised that his reforms would “take a tougher approach to university education that burdens students with debt without improving their earning potential”.
Sir. Sunak attended the fee-paying private school Winchester College before studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University.
The former chancellor promised to assess university degrees through their drop-out rates, numbers in graduate jobs and salary thresholds – making exceptions for nursing and other courses of high social value.
In an apparent bid to appeal to the right, Mr Sunak’s campaign said he would also fast-track the Higher Education (Freedom of Expression) Bill, which the government claims is needed to tackle growing intolerance in universities.
Opponents suggest it is aimed at solving a problem that doesn’t exist and could protect hate speech.
Sir. Sunak also pledged to improve professional development for teachers, progressing plans announced by the government in June to open 75 new free schools and give school trusts a “responsible holiday” for two years after hiring underperforming schools.
As part of her plans for education, rival Liz Truss has pledged to replace failing academies with new free schools and promised that students with top A-level grades will be automatically invited to Oxbridge and other prestigious universities.