In choosing a course of study, students in England have the option of pursuing either a traditional 3-year degree program or a two-year fast track degree program.
What is a two-year degree program?
The Fast Track degree program compresses a three-year traditional program into a two-year degree by extending teaching throughout the summer months. The idea is to offer students the option of saving on some of the costs of tuition and moving on to the job marketplace sooner.
Because a fast track degree requires the same amount of work as a three-year program, students carry a more rigorous workload, and a good deal of dedication is needed to succeed.
Why were two-year degree programs introduced?
The fast track course was first implemented by UK universities in September of 2006. The initiative was part of a plan by Tony Blair to increase the number of students pursuing higher degrees by offering more flexible degree options.
Which universities currently offer the fast track honors program?
To date, the universities at Derby, Leeds Metropolitan, Northampton, Staffordshire, and Kent are implementing the compressed honors program. Degrees offered are in accounting, finance, marketing, law, business management, English, and tourism.
Fast-track college programs are also offered in the United States and Australia as an alternative to the traditional programs of study, with an eye to allowing students to graduate more quickly and save money on university fees.
Experts have expressed the following opinions in favor of the fast track program:
- Studies have shown that the fast track program works for some students, and it highlights the ability of higher education to meet the needs of students in today’s world.
- A fast track program gives students the ability to move into the job market or a post-graduate program more quickly. In addition, many employers agree that a student who has completed a two-year compressed degree program stands out among other graduates.
- A two-year program saves students up to 1/3 of their living costs, tuition and university fees, reducing their debt upon graduation.
Some professional educators have expressed concerns about the compressed honors program:
- Rushing students through a degree program diminishes the university experience; some educators feel that students are being treated as money-making commodities.
- Two-year programs place an unrealistic burden on instructors and staff. In addition, because professors typically reserve the summer months for their research, there could be a decline in quality of instruction with a two-year program.
- Many students spend part of their three-year degree period in internship positions. This would not be possible with a two-year fast track program.
The debate about whether the fast track program is appropriate for students pursuing a university degree continues. When deciding which program is right for you, you will need to consider your goals, your needs as a student, and your ability to take on the workload required for a compressed degree.