Government paves way for accelerated degrees

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Graduation day hats in the air. Pic JMU Journalism

The government has tabled amendments to the Higher Education and Research Bill, which would allow universities to offer more two-year degree courses.

Subject to Parliamentary approval, this change – which was promised in the Conservative Party’s 2015 election manifesto – will be introduced to tackle the inflexibility of student fee structures.

A spokesman for The Government’s Department for Education told JMU Journalism: “You can do fast-track courses in a number of different subjects, at different levels as it is, and it will be similar to that, where it’s intensive business. But, it’s done with a third off the time, at less of a cost.

“It’s greater flexibility. Also, it helps if you’ve got the time to do that. And as a student, if you have the time and the focus to put in all that work in the space of two years, it obviously saves money as well.”

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The government has laid out its plans to reduce costs for students, part of which would see a cap on tuition fees for the new offerings introduced.

The spokesman continued: “Basically, the way that it will work, a two-year course will never cost more than the three-year equivalent course. The cost for the overall two years will be capped at £27,000 at an absolute maximum, most will cost a lot less than that.”

Other amendments to the Bill include the helping of students in storing up academic credits, allowing students to switch institutions more easily, bringing in institutional autonomy for The Office of Students and more.

Liverpool-born Jack Webster, 20, who is studying Law & Politics at Queen Mary University of London, told JMU Journalism: “The introduction of more two-year degrees is a positive move. A massive obstacle to studying a degree is not just the tuition fees for three years, but additional costs as well, such as rent, bills and things of that nature.

“Reducing the time it takes for a student to gain a degree, whilst not reducing the quality of teaching, should force universities to provide better quality for money.”

Ian Lowe, 21, who is studying Geography at the University of Liverpool, told JMU Journalism: “I understand that not everybody can afford the three-year courses at the moment.

“But, I feel like the quality of degrees could be diminished because, at the end of the day, universities are going to start competing for quicker degree completion times, and that sends out the wrong message.”