University students will save money on their degrees and enter the workplace sooner thanks to plans to roll out two-year courses, the Minister for Universities said today.
The Department for Education said shorter university courses, also known as accelerated degrees, will be a boost both for students in higher education and for businesses looking to employ graduates.
It said the degrees are particularly useful for subjects such as accountancy, financial management and law, as accrediting bodies are developing accelerated courses. However, two-year degrees are expected to be available for the majority of courses.
The proposals mean universities can charge 20 per cent more a year for accelerated courses. However, the overall cost of the degree will be 20 per cent lower than the three-year equivalent, meaning students can save roughly £5,550.
The plan also saves money for the government, which will have lower levels of loans to fund.
Universities minister Sam Gyimah said: “Accelerated degrees not only make it possible for the next generation of students to access higher education and the undeniable financial, academic and personal benefits it has to offer, but drives the sector to offer dynamic choices that serve students’ needs.
“Providers will be able to tap into a new market of students, particularly mature students and those who commute, who were previously locked out of higher education. This provision creates a new arena of competition that delivers for students, taxpayers and employers.”
While two-year degrees are already available from some universities, the current cap on tuition fees means providers can only receive two-thirds of the income of a three-year degree.
The new proposals, which will require an increase in the tuition fees cap, are subject to parliamentary approval.
Office for Students chief executive Nicola Dandridge said: “Accelerated degrees offer students from all backgrounds the possibility of studying over a shorter period of time, at a lower overall cost compared with a standard three-year course. For many, they are likely to be an attractive option.
“We look forward to seeing the impact of the new fee limit on student choice and diversity of provision across the country, and we will be working with students, universities and colleges, the government and other partners to support the wider delivery of these degrees.”