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LABOUR took a swing yesterday at Tory plans to introduce higher fees for “condensed” two-year degree courses.
The proposals involve increasing fees for intensive two-year courses to £11,100, compared with the annual fees of £9,520 for three-year courses.
Two-year courses would also mean undergraduates continuing to be taught over summer.
The Department of Education argues that the total cost of the two-year courses will be about 20 per cent less than a three-year course.
The proposals are due before Parliament for introduction in autumn 2019.
National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts member Ana Oppenheim said: “While students should be able to learn at their own pace, nobody should have to make decisions about their education based on financial considerations.
“Degrees are not products we can discuss in terms of ‘value for money,’ education should be free and accessible to all, in any circumstances.”
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: “It seems that every higher education policy from this government comes with another plan to raise tuition fees, with students on part-time degrees now facing charges of over £11,000 a year.
“With universities facing uncertainty over Brexit, ministers must address concerns like the impact on staff workload before imposing more major changes.
“So far they have offered no concrete evidence that squeezing three years of learning into two will stem the huge drop in part-time students, or lead to better outcomes.”
A spokesman for the Russell Group, which represents 24 leading British universities, said: “I don’t think any university is necessarily ruling two-year courses out, but there are practical reasons why three-year programmes have generally been considered the most appropriate way to deliver courses at research-intensive institutions.
“Three-year courses provide opportunities to build the social and cultural capital of students beyond the remit of their degree programme. Summer is also traditionally a time when academics put a real focus on work with postgraduate students and move forwards with research.
“Ultimately universities need to have the freedom to deliver courses in the way which lets them provide students with the best possible learning experience.”
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