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UCU comment on two-year degrees

24 February 2017 | last updated: 1 March 2017

Commenting on the news of government proposals for two-years degrees costing up to £13,000 per year, the University and College Union (UCU) said it feared ministers were prepared to sacrifice the UK's global reputation for excellence in its latest attempt to force for-profit colleges into higher education.

The union said that allowing institutions to offer more high-cost shorter degrees might be good news for the for-profit companies circling UK higher education, but risked worsening ties with other countries and would do little to open up the university experience to more students. It called on the government to resist a "pile 'em high and teach 'em cheap" approach to students' education.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The debate around two-year degrees comes up regularly and at least there is a new twist this time as the government is not even considering the cut-price element, which some saw as their one saving grace. Allowing universities to charge more money for an accelerated programme looks like another misguided attempt to allow for-profit colleges access to UK higher education.

'At a time when we are struggling to maintain relationships with universities and academics in the EU and beyond, introducing a raft of new courses that would not fit in with the Bologna process could only worsen our standing internationally. Furthermore, we worry our proud international reputation for excellence would be put at risk. 

'Accelerated degrees risk undermining the well-rounded education upon which our universities' reputation is based. As well as placing a huge burden on staff, these new degrees would only be available to students who could study all year round. Our universities must remain places of learning, not academic sweatshops and the government needs to resist the pile 'em high and teach 'em cheap approach to students' education.'