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Forget 2-year degrees - courses only need to be 6 months long, according to an expert

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The length of a traditional university degree is “grossly excessive” and should be slashed to just six months, according to one of the UK’s leading employment experts.

 

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Chris Davies, the founder of consultancy firm Graduate Coach, said three-year courses are “bankrupting” students by forcing them to spend longer than necessary outside of paid employment.

The average student reportedly graduates with £50,000 of debt, which is “shameful and wholly unnecessary”, he said.

Universities should instead have the option of scrapping three-year courses altogether and offering intensive, 24-week degrees.

The new degrees, dubbed “Commando Courses” on account of their intensity, would involve 60-hour working weeks with almost no holidays to cover the heavier workload.

Currently, students enrolled on three or four-year courses enjoy summer breaks of up to four months, and often four-week holidays for Christmas and Easter.

Almost all learning could be carried out online using remote video conferencing software and e-study packages, in much the same way as The Open University, according to Davies.

Such degrees have the potential of reducing tuition fees by around 50% and would fast-track graduates into Britain’s workforce, Davies believes.

He believes that 90% of the 500 students he coaches each year would “jump at the chance” of graduating early, despite the relentless workload.

Speaking exclusively to The National Student, Davies said: “We live in a technological era that enables people globally to freely connect, transact and communicate at the touch of a button and at their convenience.

“Much of this innovation is fuelled by education and is powered and used by young people and students.

“With these technological advances in mind, the length of traditional degree courses seems grossly excessive, outdated and wholly unnecessary, especially when you consider the shameful amount of debt that longer courses cause.”

Davies, the author of employment ‘bibles’ The Student Book and The Graduate Book, added: “A Commando course, as I call them, which is about six months long, is entirely feasible and should be on offer to all students as a matter of priority.”

Last year, the then Universities Minister Jo Johnson announced plans to offer ‘accelerated’, two-year degrees to students in England.

Mr Johnson said he wanted to “break the mould” of a system in which three-year degrees have “crowded out” more flexible ways of studying.

The announcement came after concerns that students were not getting good value-for-money from their tuition fees.

Critics warned that shorter courses would cause a hike in tuition fees, from the current £9,250 per year.

But Davies, who has helped hundreds of students achieve their first graduate-level position with employers including Amazon, Coca‐Cola, Deloittes, EY, and Google, said the government’s plans do not go far enough.

And he argues that shorter courses – especially intensive, six-month programmes – should be proportionately cheaper at around £15,000.

Under his proposals, students on the so-called Commando Courses would take the same number of units.

But the courses would rely on online tutorials, video conferencing, and e-lectures, and could therefore be condensed into about six months.

This would reduce university overheads because much of the study material could be pre-produced and made accessible on the internet without the need for full-time teaching staff.

As well as reduced tuition fees, students would save on two-and-a-half year’s living costs and would be able to start working far earlier.

Davies accepts that some degrees, like medicine and veterinary science, could not be reduced in length.

Six-month courses would not work for more practical programmes like construction and engineering, either.

But he believes it would work for most undergraduate courses, some of which require just 20 hours of studying per week.

The courses would also not suit those people who choose to attend university for the lifestyle and experience, Davies added.

Of those students Davies coaches, however, 90% said the possibility of gaining a degree and finding a job in such a short space of time would be “particularly appealing”.

Davies, whose lectures are regularly attended by more than 1,000 graduates and employers, said: “Clearly, shorter, more intensive courses won’t work for everyone.

“People go to university for different reasons, and to some the thought of 60-hour working weeks would be abhorrent.

“But for most of the students I’ve spoken to, a 60-hour working week – which is technically illegal but not at all unusual in some jobs - is a small price to pay for saving so much money.”

Davies’ new books, The Student Book and The Graduate Book are available now on Amazon, both priced £9.99 in paperback.

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