Two year degrees? No, thanks

University of Nottingham, Trent Building

Two year degree courses at universities in England look set to be introduced under new government plans, costing an eye-watering £14,000 a year, despite the reduced length of the degree. While some have argued that this will be beneficial to mature students and the like, arguably this is a disaster waiting to happen.

University was free up until 1998 and, even after that, cost a meagre £1000 a year until 2005. Nowadays, with most of us paying through the nose and graduating steeped in debt, not to mention the imminent threat of a further £250 a year added to that to that £9000, it’s a wonder any of us can afford to even be here.

You might then wonder why a two year degree seems a bad idea at all. Sure, you’re able to earn money a lot quicker since you spend less time dossing around, but the quality of education (and happiness) you’ll get in return really isn’t worth it. First year would count, allowing absolutely no time for settling in, making friends or adjusting to the enormous change you’ve just undergone, instead being forced to focus on your degree straight away. There is a reason why universities like Nottingham don’t make first year count and it’s not just so we can all go out and get hammered every night.

“Anxiety and depression is already abundant among students”

For the thousands of students who have never been away from home before, the move to university is, for most, incredibly unsettling and scary. Even for those of us who went to boarding school and are used to not seeing our family for weeks, university is still a big change and one that can often bring on feelings of loneliness and/or homesickness.

Trying to juggle these feelings along with settling in, making friends, learning to look after yourself, finding your way around, cooking and cleaning for yourself, washing your own laundry, getting drunk and studying for a degree (that counts) is bound to end in tears. Poor mental health such as anxiety and depression is already abundant among students, and the stress of all this would certainly mean an increase in those seeking help, or worse, struggling in silence under the weight of the pressure.

As someone who found my first term difficult, I can only imagine how much worse I’d have felt knowing that every essay counted towards my degree.

“It gives you time to make mistakes”

It is inevitable that a two year course would see a drop in the quality of content; expecting lecturers to condense three years worth of PowerPoint’s into two years is a big ask! Not only would they be trying to race through the content, we would all be too stressed to take it in (and what’s more they wouldn’t have as much time for their beloved research, leading to, I can imagine, some pretty grumpy professors.)

“It’s another ploy to gain money without the labour; turning over more students in faster succession while charging them the same amount”

First year, and indeed second year, is invaluable in the sense that it gives you time to make mistakes, learn from them, grow intellectually and develop your writing skills. It also gives you the time to change courses if you realise the one you chose is not for you, something that a two-year course simply wouldn’t allow for.

We all know uni isn’t just about the work, it’s about the partying, life experience and general fun that comes with it. Having three, or four years somewhere, gives you that chance to drink yourself silly in Crisis and then miss your 9am the next day, or to experience losing all your worldly possessions on the Ocean dance-floor. It’s part of growing up and being a student; compressing this down into two intense years means you simply couldn’t allow for these experiences.

“It’s another ploy to gain money without the labour”

With tuition fees on the rise anyway, the set price of £28k for a two year course points to the inevitable of paying this much in the future for a three year course. While I can appreciate a shorter course would benefit an older or mature student who wanted to get into the workplace quickly, you would imagine there must be a better way.

As far as I can see, it’s another ploy to gain money without the labour; turning over more students in faster succession while charging them the same amount. Pretty soon, those who can’t rely on their parents to support them will be denied access to higher education, and for those of us who can, we will be paying a heavy price for doing so.

Emily Harbottle

Image courtesy of ‘Simon Osborne’ via Flickr.

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