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Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse degrees

Mickey Mouse degrees are the name given by the national tabloids of Great Britain to university degree courses deemed worthless or irrelevant. The phrase took off in the late 1990s, as the Labour government created the target of having 50% of students in higher education by 2010. This, along with a funding crisis, resulted in a major increase in degree course places, and at present there are more course places available than there are qualified students, resulting in hundreds every year going to university despite poor A-Level grades.

Media Studies has fallen victim to the term, since there are 43 times as many Media Studies students in higher education as there are jobs available in the media annually. In 2003, Staffordshire University was mocked as providing 'David Beckham Studies' as it provided a course on the footballer as part of its Sports Science course. Other degrees deemed 'Mickey Mouse' include Golf Management, Surfing Studies, Wine Studies and Boxing.

Ignorance, however, also plays a part in the application of the term. Derogatory comments rely on the low symbolic capital of 'new' subjects, rarely discussing course contents beyond the titles.

Although it is perceived as a recent phenomenon, 'dumbing down' has historical routes. In 1828, University College London was criticised for teaching the now prestigious English Literature. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mickey_mouse_degrees [May 2005]

Mickey Mouse Course

In academic milieux, the term 'Mickey Mouse course' is no doubt still in circulation as a synonym for an unacceptably 'easy', undemanding non-course, typically in the humanities or the social sciences. Some at least, then, will be surprised when confronted on the dust-jacket of Esther Leslie's handsome new volume with the figure of no less radical a film-maker than Sergei Eisenstein shaking hands with Walt Disney's populist cartoon creation. This is no montage, but an incident that actually occurred in Hollywood in 1930. One-third into the book, the reader also learns that Walter Benjamin not only mentioned Mickey Mouse in the first (1935) version of the famous essay best-known in English as 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction', but also left among his papers a whole bundle of press-cuttings and notes on the very same rodent. --http://www.wbenjamin.org/hollywood.html

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