Recent legislation has been passed by MPs to increase the tuition fee cap for two-year degrees to £11,100 a year in England.
Describing the bill as “a modern-day milestone for students”, Universities Minister Chris Skidmore stated the legislation would “break the mould of a one-size-fits-all system for people wanting to study in higher education.”
“For thousands of future students wanting a faster pace learning and a faster route into the workplace at a lower overall cost, two-year degrees will transform their choices.”
Conservatives were joined alongside 10 Democratic Unionist Party MPs to vote in favour of this bill, while Labour Party MPs and two out of 11 Liberal Democrat MPs voted against it. The Scottish National Party did not vote.
The Department of Education (DoE) said graduates undertaking two-year courses “would save 20 per cent on tuition fees compared to traditional courses. For example, students who opt for a two-year degree will save at least £5,500 in total tuition costs compared to a standard three-year course.”
The DoE also said that students will also “benefit from a year without paying any maintenance costs through an accelerated course, which would allow them to access the workforce quicker.”
Currently, for students seeking a second undergraduate degree who have obtained a first or upper second class honours, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge for example offer accelerated versions of courses such as PPE and Law under the banner of “special status” or “affiliate student”.
UCU head of policy Matt Waddup said: “ ‘Instead of gimmicks which risk undermining the international reputation of our higher education sector, the government should focus on fixing the underlying problems with our current finance system which piles huge debts on students.
‘This decision is not about increasing real choice for students, it is about allowing for-profit companies access to public money through the student loans system. Without proper safeguards, accelerated degrees will quickly become devalued, but the government shows no signs that it understands this.”
The bill will now be passed into the House of Lords for secondary legislation.