/ Money, Parenting

Can you study for a degree in two years?

studying at uni

Would a two-year degree make financial sense or would it be too rushed?

The government has revealed plans for ‘fast-track’ degree courses that take two years to complete rather than the usual three.

Although the fees would be the same, students would save money by not having to fork out for a third year of living costs.

The idea isn’t new: the US, Australia and some parts of Asia already have accelerated forms of degrees.

So, like taking an intensive driving course to get a licence in a fraction of the time, can the university experience be condensed into two years? And should it?


As an 18-year-old from a large family, going to uni meant moving to a whole new city and acquiring a newfound sense of freedom. For me, two years just wouldn’t have been enough.

That said, my student loans and tuition fees back then were considerably less than students studying in England face today, which can be up to £28,000.

With non-repayable grants no longer available to help with living costs, two-year degrees could have their financial merits.

Mature students juggling studying with work and family would also benefit from the shake-up, as a year less spent at uni would mean a year less spent on childcare costs.

Similarly, students who live at home, perhaps less connected to the extracurricular aspects of uni life and more focused on the qualification at the end, may welcome a shorter degree.

Uni options

But would you miss out on the ‘uni experience’?

Or perhaps a four-year course, where you spend a year studying abroad or working in your chosen industry, would suit you better.

Taking it back to the driving analogy, maybe uni should be a ‘means to an end’ if you know the direction you’re going in and can get on your chosen path quicker.

Would a two-year course suit you or would you prefer to study for longer? If you’re a parent of a student who’s off to uni soon, would it be a good option for your child? Or, if you could have your time again, would you choose this route?

Profile photo of Ian

I cannot see how two years in Physics, Mathematics, Engineering or Chemistry – to name but four – could possibly be as rigorous as a three year course, without extending the actual term times at the very least. It’s a sticking plaster remedy, IMO.

Profile photo of wavechange

It’s possible by having three semesters instead of two, but that puts students under more pressure and denies them the time to become more mature and take advantage of the social experience of going to university.

I do appreciate the financial issues and it is very sad that student loans effectively acclimatise young people to living in debt. My answer is to restrict university places to those who can demonstrate the commitment and aptitude for study, and to pay their fees. We are wasting a great deal of money funding those who are not interested in their studies and for various reasons and inhibiting the achievements of the better students.

Profile photo of malcolm r

For some courses 2 years should suffice, and free up time for more student intake if that is what we want. I see the long breaks as something of a nice-to-have but not essential, unless they are used as part of the educational process – in my case it was related work experience, project work and a thesis. Short more intensive courses would also prepare students for the real world of work which, in many proper jobs, is also intensive, sustained, with restricted holidays.

Some courses when I studied had so much free time during the academic terms that I see no reason why they could not even now be completed in 2 years. so it depends upon the degree subject. I imagine we might have a backlash from some teaching staff.

Profile photo of wavechange

Malcolm – Most teaching staff in the field of science are also active in research. The long vacation provides an opportunity to pursue research, attend conferences, write papers, write grant applications, update teaching material, set and mark resits, and so on. If you are teaching subjects with some relation to your research you are likely to be a better lecturer. Three semesters would work where people are not engaged in research.

Profile photo of malcolm r

Indeed so. That is what I meant by backlash. However, 2 year courses would make much better use of facilities, and maybe of staff who did not have such commitments.

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When I did my maths and computing degree back in the day, I can’t recall every having more the 20 hours of lectures a week. Some terms as few as 15 hours. 2 year degrees could easily be possibly for some degrees.

Profile photo of Eimer Heekin

Yes, I had a similar experience, it will be interesting to see how this plays a part in the selection of what degrees can be completed in 2 years.

Profile photo of John Ward

Why is it either three-year courses or two-year courses? I can understand the administrative [and possible logistical] advantages of making all courses the same number of weeks but that is not necessarily to the students’ [or future employers’] benefit. One size rarely fits all in this life and some disciplines justifiably require more tuition time and some could be completed in less. Universities are, in most cases, intelligent and creative institutions so they should be able to work out how to offer the right duration for each course, and if it plays havoc with the boat race schedule then so be it. The important thing is to ensure that the quality of the degrees awarded is not compromised by artificial adherence to antediluvian course structures merely to suit the academic establishment.

Sue Thompson says:
3 March 2017

I did a full time (36weeks a year) teaching degree in 2 years as part of a pilot project and l felt very much under constant pressure. I was a mature student and a single parent and pretty much hated the pressure of the teaching practice and assignments etc. Since then though l’ve studied part time through the O.U. and currently one day a week at a college and l have enjoyed both of these experiences more. One was for a year and one was for two years.

wdfortyplus says:
3 March 2017

Mr Buck Rogers phD in galaxy exploration. put your fingerprint on screen and you now are qualified for the 25th century! ! ! Don’t forget the microwave.