Miércoles 27 de Septiembre de 2006, Ip nº 172

Fast-track degrees prove popular with students
Por Debbie Andalo

A university piloting a new two-year fast-track law degree said today that the course was heavily oversubscribed, with three students chasing each available place.
The course at Staffordshire University, which had 20 places on offer, attracted traditional A-level school-leavers, but also proved popular with mature students seeking a career change, according to Miceal Barden, the university's director of student recruitment for business and law.

He told EducationGuardian.co.uk today: "We interviewed all the applicants to determine whether they realised the intensive study involved and for some of them we suggested they took the three-year route instead.

"It has attracted a range of students, not just those school leavers who have completed their A-levels, but mature students who are career changing who are prepared to take two years out of work to study, but not three."

Staffordshire is one of five universities in England piloting programmes of fast-track degrees, which can be completed in two rather than the traditional three years.

Derby University, which is offering fast-track degrees in subjects including business and earth sciences, also confirmed its courses had been popular, especially with mature students

Around 600 students in England are expected to enrol on the national programme this academic year, although final figures are not expected to be confirmed until December, according to the funding council, Hefce, which is behind the initiative.

Hefce has invested £3m to help universities establish fast-track programmes, reflecting government policy to offer more flexible routes into higher education.

But a question mark hangs over the future funding of these degrees once this initial money runs out at the end of the pilot.

A spokesman for Hefce said: "In the long-term it remains to be seen how it is going to work financially. The £3m is a one off cost to help off-set the cost of designing the fast-track programmes."

The cost of tuition fees for students on these courses is likely to be raised by universities involved in the pilots as part of the debate over future funding.

Staffordshire said fast-track students only have to pay the cost of two years' tuition fees - even though they are receiving the equivalent of three years of study.

Mr Barden said: "I think ultimately there will have to be an examination of what is the right level of fee because we are teaching more than two years of degree study."

  19/09/2006. The Guardian.