24 February 2017
Government to introduce 2-year degrees with £14000/year fees
A fast-track degree will mean spending less on living costs, but it’ll cost the same as a three-year course – and mean giving up your summer break!
The government have just revealed big plans to allow unis in England to start offering condensed two-year undergraduate degrees.
But before you get too excited about this being a money-saving opportunity, participating unis will also be allowed to raise fees on condensed courses to as much as £14,000 a year!
This means they’re likely to cost much the same overall as a three-year degree (exact details on fees, and whether condensed courses will also be allowed to increase fees with inflation, are still to be disclosed).
One money-saving perk of a condensed course would be you’d be saving on a year’s accommodation and living costs, and begin earning a salary earlier. But is it worth the stress?
What’s the reason behind fast-track degrees?
There are a few reasons reasons why the government has decided to start allowing unis to offer condensed courses.
According to Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, it’s about offering flexibility.
He has said:
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.
In other words, it will reduce the amount of time students spend out of the job market. Fast-track courses would result in students getting their qualifications quicker, and so in theory also earning quicker and, we suspect, begin repaying their student loans quicker, too!
It would also mean one year less maintenance loans for the government to pay out to students. As the situation currently stands, the likelihood of a student repaying their entire loan (never mind the interest!) before it’s wiped after 30 years is highly unlikely, so fast-track degrees could be an opportunity to reduce the affect this has on the economy.
Is this a new thing?
Interestingly, some unis already offer condensed degrees on some courses. For example, Staffordshire Uni offers an English Lit degree that can be taken over two years, but they’ve kept fees at £9,000 due to the current cap.
However, now that the cap has been lifted and the government are imposing a new £14,000/year cap, any students considering this fast-track course could end up £8,000 out of pocket!
Is a fast-track degree worth it?
That depends on what you’re looking for in a degree! One obvious perk would be that you’ll save on one year of forking out on expensive accommodation and living off your student loan (which as we know, barely covers the price of rent these days).
As a condensed course will be much more intensive, it’s highly unlikely you’d be able to juggle a part-time job with your studies, so this could mean a frugal couple of years!
If you’re keen to get qualified as soon as possible and dive straight into the job market, a fast-track degree could be a good option.
However, whilst you will emerge fully-qualified after two years, will an employer see you as less experienced when considered against a candidate with the same degree taken over three years?
The intensity of a condensed course would also mean sacrificing work placements and internships, as fast-track courses are likely to continue over summer and Christmas breaks.
Our student finance expert Jake, shares his views:
Unfortunately, this does seem like yet another move towards the total commercialisation of university education.
This set up could certainly benefit some students, but the supposed ‘perk’ of saving on a year’s living costs is a bit of a false economy, as this would be covered by the maintenance loan anyway, and the majority of graduates won’t ever pay this back.
And would students on a 2 year course really get the same value as those on a 3 year course? I’m not so sure…
Do you think a fast-track uni degree is a good idea?
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