Students could save money with two-year fast track degrees

Universities are to offer fast-track degrees that could save students money under new government plans.

The Department for Education is yet to confirm the higher fees, which need Parliament's approval, but they could be as much as £13,500 a year.

The union said that allowing institutions to offer more high-cost shorter degrees might be good news for the for-profit companies circling United Kingdom higher education, but risked worsening ties with other countries and would do little to open up the university experience to more students. Ministers are expected to table a bill to lift the current £9,000-a-year cap on tuition costs so that universities can charge higher annual rates.

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.

The proposal will be announced today by Universities minister Jo Johnson, the younger brother of Foreign Secretary, Boris.

"As the minister acknowledges, the three-year undergraduate degree will remain the preferred option for many students. But it clearly must not be the only option".

Those who take up the new qualifications would forgo the traditional long summer and winter breaks in exchange for the faster pace of the degree.

This change is one of many being introduced to the Higher Education and Research Bill by Jo Johnson, including plans to make it easier for students to change courses while at uni.

"Plus if the degree was condensed into two years we wouldn't have time to get involved in societies, clubs and extra-curriculars which are such a big part of university life".

"However, I am absolutely loving the student lifestyle, and definitely think that I would miss out being here for a shorter time compared to people doing three years".

"At a time when we are struggling to maintain relationships with universities and academics in the European Union and beyond, introducing a raft of new courses that would not fit in with the Bologna process could only worsen our standing internationally".

A small number of United Kingdom universities already offer accelerated degrees, but many have been discouraged from adopting fast-track schemes due to the £9,000 a year tuition fee cap.

It also found that students may be reluctant to sacrifice their holidays because they find them valuable to undertake work experience or paid employment.

Dr Tim Bradshaw, acting director of the Russell Group, which represents 24 of the UK's top universities, said: "We support diversity and innovation in higher education and welcome the Government's commitment to ensure appropriate financing for accelerated degree courses".

The promotion of two-year degrees was a manifesto pledge from the Conservatives.

If the plans are successful, it would be the first rise to tuition fees since 2012 when the coalition government almost tripled the cap in England from £3,290.

  • Leroy Wright