“Firstly, I would send only the best 20 per cent of students to university,” says Honeyman, whose eponymous company provides engineering, project management, training and consultancy services to the pharmaceutical sector. “We have to make degrees worth something again and in worthwhile subjects that benefit the nation. As a chemist and entrepreneur, I think it’s important that the country starts to invest in science and technology. It’s one of the few things we are good at.”
He says Tony Blair’s commitment to send 50 per cent of students to university was another of his “memorable but impractical” sound bites. “Our universities are full of students completing courses that will not benefit their careers, employers or the economy,” he complains.
Honeyman also calls for the abolition of university fees to ensure that the top 20 per cent is made up of people from all walks of life, not just privileged backgrounds. “Equally important, I would introduce a whole new tier of apprenticeships and vocational training for those students who don’t get into university, which is linked to jobs and integrated with demand from business.”