Would you do a fast-track university degree for £14,000 a year? Three NME readers react to the ‘impossible’ scheme

The government have announced new plans set to come into place in 2020

Earlier today (February 24), the government announced plans to introduce fast-track degrees for university students. Instead of spending three years studying a subject, students would only spend two years working towards their chosen qualifications. If you’re thinking you’d get to do a degree for a bit cheaper than usual, think again. Universities would be allowed to charge more than £14,000 per year according to the BBC, which could mean students in England would end up paying more than students at state universities in America.

It’s being argued that students would have lower accommodation and living expenses, and would be able to start repaying their debts sooner, making the fast-track degrees more beneficial to them, but it mainly whiffs of the educational equivalent of the post-Brexit Toblerones that cost the same but have half as many mountains. Three NME readers weigh in with their opinions on the proposed scheme.

Nicole Reid, 20, University Of Huddersfield

“I have been a music journalism student at Huddersfield University for the past three years and, even with a part-time job, I have found it extremely hard to provide for myself. I think that even if this scheme will help reduce the debt of students the fact is they will still be in debt for most of their life, if not all of it. With the amount that student digs cost, I find it hard to believe that one less year is going to make much difference at all for the fact that, unless a student ends up making a lot of money from their future career, it is almost impossible to pay off. I am currently in my final year and I am constantly stressed and busy with assignments and trying to do as much work as I can while also working 16 hours a week to make sure I can, at the very least, live. This scheme would only increase the work on my plate and with the amount of work I currently have, I would see that as impossible.”

Megan Lily, 18, Exeter College

“University to me has always been an opportunity to really find yourself, move out of home and grow up. Obviously, the point of going to university is also to come out with a degree so you can move on to find a job in a field that you love, but many students actually head off to study now to find out what they really want to do. So is £10k less of debt for a larger work load in a shorter period of time really worth it? Not in my opinion. It’s nice to have that option, but I don’t think that’s quite enough to justify changing the whole system and giving potential students yet another thing to think about. A study released by NightLine showed that 65 percent of students in the UK are stressed about university. This could potentially mean that students’ stress levels are crammed down into two years instead of three. There’s been a huge conversation around mental health in the last 12 months and that should be taken into account here – trying to pack a degree into two years could not only affect students’ future, but also their mental health.”

Rory Marcham, 21, University Of Exeter

“So students are now being offered two-year university courses with fees of more than £14,000 a year under the guise that it’ll be worth it in the long-run, as they’ll be saving money on housing and living expenses. But it’s also something that would entail more intensive workloads and reduced holiday time. To be honest, it’s hard to see how these poorly devised schemes would really benefit anyone other than universities, which would be taking £26,000 for two years worth of teaching (as opposed to £27,000 for three years worth of teaching) all in aid of students supposedly saving money. Finances aside, university is a place and time in the lives of young adults where we can go to find ourselves, get to know like-minded people and take part in activities and societies that you just wouldn’t be able to get involved with back home. The uni experience is not something you can just fast-track and that’s before you consider the already demanding and time-consuming schedules most students already have. For me personally, my essay writing ability and way of approaching history (the subject I am reading at the University of Exeter) has improved drastically over the three years of the course and that’s not something that can be rushed. There’s no way I would’ve been able to squeeze in a good quality dissertation at the end of my second year. A degree is a qualification that is supposed to be awarded for an intense study into a certain subject, and shortening this to two years would certainly cheapen its value.”