Students to be offered university degrees over two years
Students studying in the UK will now be offered two-year degrees under plans outlined by education ministers on Friday.
Universities will now be given the option of providing fast-track courses, enabling them to raise tuition fees upwards of £13,000 a year.
The new degrees would mean that students are expected to work more intensively throughout the year, with the lengthy duration of holidays scaled back to cover a heavier workload.
Currently, undergraduates enrolled on three or four-year courses enjoy summer breaks last up to four months, with some also receiving up to six week for the Christmas and Easter holidays.
While students are likely to incur the same tuition fees as a conventional degree, the jump to a fast-track course would significantly reduce the costs of accommodation – with many saving between a year and two years rent.
Speaking today, Universities Minister Jo Johnson will give the plans the green light, but will ask university vice-chancellors to prove that they will invest the same amount of resources in fast-track courses as they do for traditional degrees.
According to The Times, Mr Johnson will tell a conference of academics today that the time is right for a move towards more flexible study options, as outlined in the Conservative manifesto.
Mr Johnson will say: “This bill gives us the chance to introduce new and flexible ways of learning. Students are crying out for more flexible courses, modes of study which they can fit around work and life, shorter courses that enable them to get into and back into work more quickly, and courses that equip them with the skills that the modern workplace needs.
“I absolutely recognise that for many students the classic three-year residential model will remain the preferred option. But it clearly must not be the only option.”
Accelerated degrees are already offered by a select group of universities, having received endorsement from previous Labour and coalition governments, on the grounds that they are a more attractive offering to mature students.
However, it is understood that reluctance to offer more accelerated courses stems from the fact that universities are currently bound by a maximum tuition fee caps.
The change is one of many amendments being introduced by Mr Johnson to the Higher Education and Research Bill, which is mid-way through its reading in the House of Lords.
The Higher Education Bill: What’s in it for new providers?
The Government’s new plans will make it easier to set-up new universities to give students more choice.
A drive to raise teaching quality and ensure universities focus on getting students into graduate jobs.
Plans deliver on key manifesto commitments to ensure universities deliver the best value for money for students and recognise the highest quality teaching.
The Government will also make it easier for students to switch courses or universities. This will place a duty on the new regulator, the Office for Students, to monitor, report on and if necessary promote arrangements for students to take academic credits with them if they transfer.
Transfer arrangements exist but the minister believes that too few students make use of them and those that do find the process difficult.