UCL News


Students dropping philosophy is no bad thing, says minister

15 February 2006

Students are dropping subjects such as philosophy and history in favour of courses which will be more useful to their careers, higher education minister Bill Rammell said today.

The minister said the trend - which also hit classics and fine art - was "no bad thing''. …

Mr Rammell told the Press Association more analysis was needed on the figures but a first reading showed students picking the subjects they think will help them get jobs.

Professor Jonathan Wolff [UCL Philosophy], honorary secretary of the British Philosophical Association, rejected the minister's argument.

"It is a bad mistake to think that subjects like philosophy, history and classics do not prepare students for the workplace,'' Professor Wolff said.

"In the modern world, detailed factual information goes out of date so quickly that employees need the skills to conduct research, and the flexibility of mind and imagination to see problems and possible solutions from many points of views.

"This is what philosophy and similar subjects provide so well.

"There is no better recipe for misery than studying a vocational subject for which one has no vocation, especially when this is compounded with debt.

"Parents, as well as students, need to be aware of this.''

Tim Ross, Press Association, 15 February 2006