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Universities will offer two-year degrees, if new proposal is approved


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Universities will offer accelerated two-year degree courses for students who want to 'fast-track their way into the workforce' if the new government proposal is approved.

Students on these shorter courses will graduate one year earlier than normal. Teaching will take place across 45 weeks as opposed to 30 weeks for the standard three-year degree. 

The proposal was announced by the previous Minister for Higher Education, Sam Gyimah.

The launch of shorter courses will create an 'unprecedented level of choice and flexibility for people wanting to study in higher education.' Prospective students are expected to pay less in tuition fees and living costs.

The annual cost of a two-year degree (around £11,000) is higher than the £9,250 students currently pay for a standard three-year degree. However, students on the fast-track course will pay £5,750 less in the long run. 

The Department for Education reassured readers that the accelerated courses will meet 'exactly the same quality assurance measures as a standard degree.' 

Whilst two-year degrees is not a new concept, the practice is not widespread. The University of Buckingham has been offering two-year degrees for four decades.

Middlesex University also offers accelerated degrees, charging £9,250 for a fast-track Business Management course.

London Metropolitan University is enticing some fast-track students with up to 20% off their postgraduate degrees if they continue their studies with them. 

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students emphasised the attractiveness of the 'lower overall costs' of the shorter degree. 

However, there have been two previous attempts at rolling out accelerated learning with no expansion thereafter. 

The University and College Union (UCU) expressed concerns over the proposal, in particular the 'marketised approach' suggested in the consultation.

They believe the previous agendas were driven by 'economic rather than educational objectives' and the same may hold true for the current proposal.

The UCU also cited that serious 'educational risks' are attached with the scheme including lack of holiday and reduced part-time work opportunities for economically disadvantaged students.

'There is an educational risk that fast-track programmes will make it harder for students to combine study with periods of reflection, critical thinking and a 'deep approach' to learning. These degrees are therefore likely to reduce the quality of the student experience.

More to follow

Image credit: RMIT University

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