2-year degrees: a good or a bad idea?

On the 23rd January 2019, new legislation was passed in the UK to allow universities to offer two-year bachelor’s degrees for some subjects. The new scheme will start in September 2019.

I was very saddened when I first heard this news. It makes perfect economic sense to both parents and students to do a two year degree (it’s about 20% cheaper and also will get you to the job market faster). It makes economic sense for universities too – their turnover of students will be higher and the volumes of students will go up as the barriers for students around expense will reduce. But, I would like to argue that it doesn’t make sense in the long run and that in fact I really think it will hurt students. Here are my arguments for this:

  • When a student goes to university, they go there to not only get a degree but to get the full “university experience”. Without it, you might as well stay at home and do an open-university course. University experience is very much about social life, discussions and brainstorming, discovering yourself, experimenting and genuinely enjoying your pretty much stress-free life. Anyone I’ve ever spoken to has loved their university life, even if they hated their degree and to diminish that will be a lost experience for many people.
  • Students are already under too much pressure to pass exams, to complete essays and to write dissertations whilst trying to secure a job. What happens when all of that will be condensed into two years? Can students take this much pressure or will this lead to people leaving university prematurely with a nervous breakdown?
  • How much information can you really learn if you are under pressure all the time? Will you have time to actually think and understand all of the information at an increased rate?
  • What about universities whose curriculum is already one of the toughest in the world? Are they going to be offering this as well?

I personally think that this legislation is a big mistake. It will put a massive amount of pressure of students and I feel that they will learn less than they would on a 3 year course (i.e. just enough to pass their exams). Most importantly, students will be robbed of their university experience which is something we all looked forward to when we applied to our courses in the first place.

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