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I did Britain’s most Mickey Mouse degree: All we did was sit around watching the Lion King and the lecturer was obsessed with Disney so I dropped out


A survivor of a controversial media-studies course which was crowned the ultimate ‘Mickey Mouse’ degree by the government itself says she has no regrets about dropping out after just a term as the lecturers are ‘obsessed’ with Disney. 

The University of Hull’s media studies course has come under fire this week after it was revealed that graduates earned just £16,100 on average five years after leaving university – the lowest in the UK. 

The course, which sets students back £9250 a year, claims to ‘blend hands on skill with thought-provoking theory’ and includes modules such as ‘screening genders’ and ‘Disney studies’. 

This module is described as an ‘in-depth exploration of the history and impact of Disney’s global entertainment empire’ however past students have complained that much of the course amounts to little more than watching films. 

One aspiring journalist was so disgusted with the course that she dropped out after just three months and accepted that she would make a loss of £2312.50 on her £9250 investment. 

The University of Hull's media studies course has come under fire due to the low salaries its graduates can expect

The University of Hull’s media studies course has come under fire due to the low salaries its graduates can expect 

According to the Department for Education (DfE), Hull graduates of media, journalism and communications degrees earned on average just £16,100 five years after leaving university

According to the Department for Education (DfE), Hull graduates of media, journalism and communications degrees earned on average just £16,100 five years after leaving university

Ellie Johnston has no regrets about quitting the under fire course after just one term

Ellie Johnston has no regrets about quitting the under fire course after just one term

Ellie claims parts of the course involved watching the Disney classic The Lion King

Ellie claims parts of the course involved watching the Disney classic The Lion King 

Ellie Johnston, 18, told MailOnline she has no regrets about quitting the under fire course after just one term and now works behind the counter in a fragrance shop.

She says she would be better cultivating contacts in the media industry that watching the Lion King and other films she can see anywhere.

She said: ‘I dropped out the media studies course in December. It was not what was described. It is a mixture of all different courses all taking the same classes.

I did the first term from September to December and it was a lot of watching films and documentaries.

‘I think it was a total of two essays I did in that three months. I did not feel it was very educational.

‘We watched a Disney film about talking and singing dogs. We watched the Lion King and one about ants taking over the world.

‘A lot of the films are accessible to people outside the uni. It was a lot of watching films. Some classes were okay like the film production class with camera work.

‘But many sessions were just watching a film and talking about it. I can do that with my friends without spending a small fortune on fees.

‘I thought I would be better of speaking to someone in the industry to get a job. It is a very Disney orientated. One of the women lecturers was obsessed with Disney.

‘A lot of it was too broad. We were also in the same classes as people doing other subjects such as creative writing linked to film.

‘Maybe less people would drop out if it was more focussed. To me what they are teaching is more like stuff I did at A level rather than university.’

In the past, Universities have been accused of having a vested interest in running these 'Mickey Mouse' courses

In the past, Universities have been accused of having a vested interest in running these ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses

Sophie Charlton studies psychology at the university and cannot fathom why anyone would study media studies

 Sophie Charlton studies psychology at the university and cannot fathom why anyone would study media studies 

The University of Hull is currently ranked 76th in the UK by the Good University Guide

The University of Hull is currently ranked 76th in the UK by the Good University Guide

The University of Hull is currently ranked 76th in the UK by the Good University Guide and has been criticised in the past for laying on perceived ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees. 

These courses are characterised as cheap courses in areas with low employment prospects that students enroll in so the University can collect £9,250 a year in tuition fees. 

Ellie’s friend Sophie Charlton, 19, is still studying psychology at the university and told MailOnline she had heard about the media studies course but was not keen.

She said: ‘I just felt it was a bit easy. It wasn’t what I wanted to do really. It is not a proper degree. It is not a popular course.

‘It is just watching films and documentaries. It is more like doing a film studies A level than degree level.’

Fellow students also revealed their bafflement at the course and expressed surprise the students enrolled weren’t looking for more practical ways into the media. 

Enya Pegado, 22, said: ‘People would be better off getting a job by work experience.

‘I had a friend who did the media studies. He would have been better off getting an apprenticeship or work rather than going to university.

‘Some of the assignments he was given did not sound like university level assignments. He got to direct some short films but there was no push.

‘It was more like GCSE media.’

Another female student said: ‘All I know about that course is that friend of mine did and he has struggled to find a job ever since.’

A male student added: ‘Media studies course are a running joke all across the country and everyone on campus knows this is Mickey Mouse degree.’

Richard Harries

Enya Pegado

Outside of the University campus, Hull’s notoriously no-nonsense locals also expressed surprise that students were being drawn into ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees (pictured Richard Harries and Enya Pegado)

Outside of the University campus, Hull’s notoriously no-nonsense locals also expressed surprise that students were being drawn into degrees with very vague prospects at the end of it. 

Richard Harries, 71, said: ‘I have got a degree but a long time ago.

‘I went in my 40s in the 90s to Leeds Met university. There were degree courses then about the strangest things that I thought would never lead to a job.

‘I was a manager at Leeds City Council and employed agency workers. We had one lady who had an MA in medieval poetry and was doing a doctorate in medieval something else.

‘There she was vastly qualified on £9 an hour looking at grass cutting which had been outsourced when they got rid of the parks service.

‘I would send her out with her two degrees to decide if the verges needed strimming which is something my nine year old granddaughter could have done.

‘A lot of degree courses even then were leading to nothing – other than a life in university. On my degree course you had all kinds of strange modules such as ‘What is Racism?’.

‘I have always quite liked Disney films. I watch them with their granddaughters but cannot imagine studying them even if they have conquered the world globally.’

Cafe worker Meg Thomson, 24, said: ‘It sounds like a right Mickey Mouse course. I have worked since leaving school and don’t see the point of a course like that.

‘I cannot understand why anyone would pay to do something like that.’

The University of Hull’s media degrees relate to their 2014/15 cohort’s PAYE salaries in the 2020/21 tax year. 

The University of Hull has said these figures are not a reflection of the courses they offer today. 

Across the entire UK, media studies graduates on average earned around £24,800 five years after they graduated – the fourth lowest in the UK. 

Degrees that ranked lower included Celtic studies (£24,700), creative arts and design (£22,400) and performing arts (£22,000).

In 2022, the DfE urged all universities to include data on how many graduates get a decent job as well as how many actually finish their three years to help students spot courses less likely to lead to a stable job. 

A spokesman for the University of Hull told MailOnline: ‘These statistics relate to students who graduated almost 10 years ago and are not a reflection of courses we offer today. 

‘We continually review all our programmes to ensure they address the current market needs locally, nationally and globally and to ensure they meet the expectations of our students.

‘Over the past few years, we have transformed our media related programmes introducing courses such as media production, graphic design and game design.

 ‘These courses all align with sector and industry needs, making our graduates attractive to employers across this growing and diverse sector.’

 Last year, the government promised to crackdown on poor-quality degrees by placing caps  on the numbers who can be recruited on to courses that are ‘not worth the paper they’re written on’.

Degrees with high dropout rates and poor employment prospects will be limited by the Office for Students, the universities watchdog.

At the same time, there were new measures promised to boost access to alternatives to university such as apprenticeships.

Nearly three in ten graduates do not progress into highly skilled jobs or further study within 15 months after graduating, according to the Office for Students.

And the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that one in five graduates would be better off financially if they had not gone to university.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was supportive of the move, saying at the time: ‘Too many young people are being sold a false dream and end up doing a poor-quality course at the taxpayers’ expense that doesn’t offer the prospect of a decent job at the end of it. 

That is why we are taking action to crack down on rip-off university courses, while boosting skills training and apprenticeships provision.

‘This will help more young people to choose the path that is right to help them reach their potential and grow our economy.’



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