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Three into two WILL go? Two-year degrees welcome, but no game changer…

  • 10 December 2017
  • By Nick Hillman

In response to the Government’s latest announcement on encouraging two-year degrees, Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, said:

Making two-year degrees more attractive makes sense as the current rules aren’t great and more diversity is generally good in higher education – so long as quality is maintained. So the overall idea of altering the financial rules for two-year degrees is sound or even overdue.

Lower fees for two-year degrees might increase demand, probably from older students as many school leavers are remarkably price insensitive and like the idea of staying at university for three (or more) years. It also might increase the supply of two-year degrees, although getting £11,100 to educate students for 40 weeks a year (£280 a week) rather than £9,250 for 30 weeks a year (£310 a week) is unlikely to make a major difference.

But it remains an open question whether there is sufficient support in Parliament for a higher tuition fee cap for a minority of courses. Overall, today’s announcement may not be a game changer.

Notes for Editors

  1. Nearly all the announced saving (£19k of the £25k) for students from taking a two-year degree in preference to a three-year degree comes from entering the labour market a year early – it is not to do with fees and loans (and two-year degrees already exist in some places for those who really want them so, arguably, the £19,000 is not an entirely new saving).
  2. The new fee cap for 2-year degrees (£11,100) is lower than the expected figure of c.£13.5k a year. In February 2017, Jo Johnson said: ‘The tuition fees for a student taking an accelerated degree will never be more, in total, than those for the same degree over a longer time period.’
  3. The new fee cap of £11,100 needs support in Parliament. It is an open question whether there is currently a majority of MPs willing to support a higher fee cap for some courses.

1 comment

  1. David Rea says:

    Do these fee proposals apply outside of England?

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