The government wants to introduce 2-year university courses that would cost over £13,000.
The new two-year degrees would carry the same weight as a normal three or four-year university degree, but would cost almost double the tuition fees to make them the same price as a three-year bachelor degree.
The department of education has proposed that universities could charge £13,000 for a university degree cut down from three to two years, and £12,000 for four year courses cut down to three years. The increase in fees would apply only to the accelerated courses, but would make annual fees at UK universities higher than in some US state universities.
Before the official announcement was even made concerns were voiced how to maintain the educational standard, and how the workload would affect university staff. The University and College Union (UCU) said that the new degrees just opened education to for-profit companies, as the only advantage of a shorter degree is to pay less money, which would not happen with this degree. The Russell Group echoed this, raising concerns over the impact a shorter degree would have on learning. The president of Universities UK welcomed innovation to tertiary education, if the needs of students and teachers could be met.
Students who choose to take these fast-track degrees would give up their summer and winter breaks in order to finish their degree in time. The universities minister, Jo Johnson, stated that it was a new, flexible way of learning. It would also save on living costs and that universities would have to offer the same quality of teaching. This new proposal is part of changes that will be included in the higher education and research bill as it slowly proceeds through the House of Lords.
Fast-track degrees were first mentioned by Tony Blair’s government, but at the time universities did not offer them as they would be too expensive to run. Now, this proposal is likely to take effect in 2020. While living costs are difficult for students, with mental health issues on the rise for students, a degree that cuts out all holidays and increases students workload does not seem to be addressing their needs.