Actress Maureen Lipman is to blame for too many young people going to university to study poor quality degrees, according to Nigel Farage.

The star's well-known 1980s BT television advert, where she told her grandson that having an "'ology" made him a scientist, meant now there were lots of students "getting 'ologies", the Ukip leader said.

Mr Farage said his party would cut down the number of university students, which would free up cash to reduce the level of annual tuition fees.

In a phone-in broadcast on The Telegraph website, he said: "My position is I think we are sending too many youngsters to university.

"I think we are encouraging people to go and get degrees, in many cases not particularly good degrees, and not improving their life chances one little bit.

"I blame Maureen Lipman for the whole thing. If you remember the advert, 'oh he's got an 'ology'.

"So, we have got a lot of people getting 'ologies and I think the way we have demeaned in Britain the idea of people learning skills and trades is just stupid."

He added: "If we get to a position where we are sending fewer people to university then we can substantially reduce the almost standard now £9,000 a year, because that's what it's become, and get it down to a much more realistic level.

"It would be a lovely aspiration to think that we wouldn't have to charge anybody."

Mr Farage also told Telegraph readers that his low voting record in the European parliament was down the medical treatment he had been receiving since he was injured in a plane crash on election day in 2010 and the demands on his time as party leader.

"I had a plane crash back in 2010 which took me out for a few months. I have since then had some pretty radical major surgery and I'm still going through fairly intensive physiotherapy.

"I have missed a fair few sessions of the parliament over the course of this parliament through ill health.

"I'm also leading a political party in the United Kingdom and Strasbourg is about eight hours door to door from home.

"So, it's difficult to do all of these things."