Are 2-year accelerated degrees viable for your institution? Here is what you should consider when exploring the options.

SUMS Consulting has produced a briefing paper on accelerated undergraduate degrees for its member universities. Here, in a summary of that briefing paper, we layout some of the key considerations you should keep in mind when assessing the viability of the two-year degree.

The UK Government invited universities to consider the creation, promotion and delivery of two-year accelerated (2YA) degrees in accordance with statements made as part of HERA 2017.

As part of the consultation, it was suggested that the fee cap will be raised by 20% for these courses; recognising the increased costs of provision and representing a 20% saving for students on tuition fees over the lifetime of the course.

Competition for UG students has grown over the past five years with increased fees and the lifting of the student numbers cap. Universities are looking to diversify their student populations to reduce revenue risks and mitigate against demographic changes and external events such as Brexit.

Research into providers and subject areas indicates a market lead by private providers, with 86% of UCAS-listed courses offered by private institutions, and the majority of courses in classroom-based subjects. Prices range from £8k to £13.5k per year depending on the provider.

Data sources differ on the number of UG students on accelerated undergraduate provision, but all suggest the proportion is small (less than 1% of the current UG cohort at UK HEIs excluding private providers). The proportion at private providers is significantly higher but this has reduced from nearly one-quarter of their UG cohort to less than one fifth as they have expanded longer duration programmes.

There may well be an increased element of selection from both the institution (looking for evidence of motivation, commitment and understanding of workload) and the student (demonstrated support levels, the reputation of course and institution). Recruitment and retention will depend in part on clear marketing messages that set appropriate expectations of both institution and student.

Most universities employ a two-semester model for teaching and assessment for the majority of UG teaching. Whilst there is some out of semester teaching for professional UG qualifications, there is little UG teaching in the summer recess period.

Universities will have to consider the most effective and efficient ways to deliver 2YA given most courses will remain in a three-year structure. This will impact staffing, student academic and support services, estates utilisation, academic policy and so forth.

Current institutional budget models may also prove a barrier to implementation. The proposed additional revenue for 2YA students may not cover the costs associated with the delivery of an additional 60 credits per year in standard delivery modes.

The viability of 2YA degrees will require larger cohorts, tactical sharing of modules or variation in the delivery mode to meet standard institution contribution targets. Amendments to standard costing models may be required to support an understanding of delivery costs and appropriate attribution of overheads.

SUMS Consulting has investigated a variety of different delivery models and would be happy to talk to you about how you plan to deliver accelerated undergraduate provision within your programme portfolio and institutional context.

If you work at one of our member universities, you can request a copy of the briefing paper by emailing

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