Government plans announced for two-year university courses

Universities will be able to charge more than £14,000 per year for a fast-track degree under proposed guidelines

Universities Minister Jo Johnson told university leaders today that universities in England will be able to charge more than £14,000 per year for a new two-year degree.

Whilst the plans, to be introduced before 2020, would reduce overall accommodation costs, the new degrees would mean students would be expected to work harder throughout the year with shorter holidays. There are additional plans to make moving between universities or courses easier for students.

In a speech in London the Minister announced: “We know that accelerated courses appeal especially to students who may not otherwise choose to pursue a degree…this includes mature students who want to retrain and enter the workplace faster than a traditional full-time three-year degree would permit, those from non-traditional or disadvantaged backgrounds, or those who want to get into the workplace faster.”

Johnson further added that two year courses would contribute to “increasing choice in our system, and opening up opportunities to more people than ever before.”

The plans constitute a further amendment to the government’s Higher Education and Research Bill, which is half way through its reading at the House of Lords.

Previously there has been no incentive for universities to introduce fast-track degrees as the fees received would also be reduced, however the rise in fees permitted would mean annual fees in England could be as high as in some US state universities.

Labour MP Gordon Marsden commented: “Is it yet another example of their using their new higher education legislation as a Trojan Horse to let tuition fees rip?”

The Russell Group have comment that the proposal would need “careful consideration” so that the shorter courses “don’t negatively affect student learning or compromise the overall undergraduate experience”. But Universities UK said it would be “a good thing” if regulations over tuition fee limit could be changed.

Oxford University have been contacted for comment.