10th January 2018

The practice of ‘Accelerated’ or ‘Fast Track’ two year-long degree courses has been in the news again this month, as former universities minister Jo Johnson sought to further increase their frequency across the higher education sector. However, despite having been available at certain universities for nearly 10 years, they continue to prove divisive.

For some they provide a cheaper option with a potentially fast transition into employment, whilst for others they create an unnecessary burden on resources without allowing enough time for students to develop.

How does an accelerated degree programme work?

Typically they offer the opportunity for learners to reduce the time taken to complete a BA/BSc course (360 credits) full-time from 3 years to 2 years or part-time from 6 years to 4 years. This is done by utilising the traditional student summer vacation as a third ‘semester’ to cover an additional 60 credits (for full-time students) or 30 credits (for part-time students). So the intensity of study within a semester is not increased, instead students study continuously through the calendar year. In theory this should allow some full-time students to reduce their costs whilst at university by only needing to incur 2 years of rent and living costs and, potentially begin earning a year earlier.

Should you choose an accelerated degree course?

For those who like to get things done quickly accelerated degrees probably sound ideal, however, Dr Robert Boast - Executive Dean: Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) – advises prospective students take caution before diving in:

“Accelerated degrees are not for all students as has been shown by the limited take-up of these programmes where they have been offered. Most students see their time at university as a 3 year experience giving themselves time to develop, acquire skills and reflect on what careers they are best suited to move in to.”

Lecturers and indeed the courses themselves also face potentially adverse consequences from an increase in accelerated degrees. The summer period is a time for academics to conduct research, undertake staff development and plan and develop existing and new courses which then informs and enhances the student experience for the next academic year, maintaining and improving the quality of the degree programmes.

Do BGU offer two year degrees?

Although accelerated degrees are not currently part of the portfolio of programmes at BGU Dr Boast adds this is always under review:

“With all programme developments we always ensure that we understand what the learners require so that we can give them the best learning and teaching experience as possible to reflect our Gold TEF rating. We are also looking to develop work-based learning/apprenticeship programmes with businesses, which might be more attractive to people in work who want access to degree level qualifications whilst earning.”

Make sure you are up to speed

Far from the finished article, the concept of accelerated degrees will continue to be honed and evolved over the next few years. Wherever your opinion on them falls, when it comes to choosing your degree, understanding the facts is of the upmost importance. Our Enquiries Team are always happy to answer any of your questions to ensure you have all the information you could need. You can find more about our current portfolio of degrees and begin your university adventure here.