Accelerated degrees and switching courses – responses to government consultation

The Department for Education published findings from the Call for Evidence on Accelerated Courses and Switching Degrees on 20th December. This consultation closed in July 2016 – read BU’s response here.

The high number of responses had been noted earlier, the report gives evidence of an interesting campaign: “we received responses from 44 higher education providers, 24 other bodies and 4,500 students. Of the responses from students, over 3,000 were from those studying at the Open University, and 150 were from students at Queen’s University Belfast.”

As with other recent consultations, the low number of individual institutional responses is interesting – some of the 24 will be from sector representative bodies (read the MillionPlus response, the GuildHE response).

There is no indication of when we will receive the formal response or what will happen next. Given the issues with the student data – which probably can’t be taken as representative in the circumstances – and the rather unsurprising results, it will be interesting to see how this is used.

The report notes that:

  • 91% of providers have a formal credit transfer system in place but only a few providers have significant numbers of systems transferring either internally or externally. Most students had a positive experience of transferring.
  • Students noted that the main reason for transferring (university or degree – it doesn’t distinguish) was change of subject (79%) with teaching quality highlighted in 38% of cases and location in 21%. Note the source of these responses – they may not be representative.
  • “Student/provider perceptions – there is a perception that a degree is a one-off purchase and logistical, financial and social factors contribute to the decision not to switch. 22% of respondents believed it to be too difficult to switch provider. Large numbers of transfers are seen by some to threaten provider prestige and ability to recruit students”

On accelerated courses:

  • “A large number of providers report that students on accelerated degree courses are more focused and motivated to complete their degrees than students on traditional undergraduate degree programmes” and “Subjects such as law, business and management are particularly suited to accelerated degrees.”
  • “Staff research activity – research intensive universities in particular highlighted the need for staff to undertake research or scholarly activity during the summer period, restricting their ability to continue teaching. 30% of providers and other bodies who responded thought it would be difficult to secure staff outside term time”
  • “Students’ use of summer vacations – some respondents noted that students value this time to undertake work experience, paid employment and/or other activities.”

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