Julian Brazier MP, writing for the socially conservative Cornerstone Group of Tory MPs, believes that more of the money spent on higher education should be targeted on halting the "pitiful collapse" in maths teaching in schools and the closures of university engineering, physics and chemistry departments.
Mr Brazier, who is also a frontbench defence spokesman, believes that the Government’s strategy of getting 50% of young people into universities is fundamentally flawed and more students should be put through vocational courses. He contends that most arts students will be worse off as a result of pursuing a university education. He notes that 34% of recent university entrants fail to complete their courses, fail to get a job or fail to get a job that requires a degree. Mr Brazier writes:
"This seems a poor return to the taxpayer. It also seems a very poor return to the students who fall into that bottom third. Many will have run up large debts, and with top-up fees, more will do so."
Mr Brazier’s paper (a PDF of which is available here) is the latest in a continuing series of papers by the Cornerstone Group. Edward Leigh has written in favour of school choice and Owen Paterson has written about Labour’s reorganisation of police forces. A Cornerstone pamphlet from last September advocated a flat tax, repeal of the Human Rights Act, tax breaks for marriage and directly elected police sheriffs.