EDUCATION Minister Brendan Nelson wants Parliament to grant him the power to cut funding to “bizarre” university degrees for such things as surfing, aromatherapy and considering whether Jesus Christ was a homosexual.
Despite fears the move is an attack on academic freedom, Dr Nelson said yesterday that taxpayers wanted more lawyers, veterinarians and teachers before they funded “silly” degrees.
Legislation being debated by Parliament to allow universities to increase HECS fees by 30 per cent and boost full fee places also would grant Dr Nelson the power to cut funding to controversial tertiary courses.
“We’ve recently seen, for example, controversy surrounding students doing PhDs on the sexuality of Jesus Christ and, in another case, on the divorce between Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise,” Dr Nelson said yesterday.
“Australians might prefer to see extra places being put into teaching, or nursing, or vets, or dentists or training more historians than they do, for example, training people in the intricacies of surfboard riding, aromatherapy or understanding where Elvis Presley currently is living.