Universities told to curb four-year degrees: Funding to be geared to output of students

Click to follow
The Independent Online
PAYMENT by results is being introduced for English universities in an attempt to contain costs by curbing the growth of four-year degrees.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is urging universities to promote two- year diplomas and has warned institutions that they will be penalised financially if they introduce more four-year degrees. From next year, funds for teaching would be geared to the 'output' of graduates, it said. The quicker students pass through the system the more funding a university stands to gain.

Later this week, the council will announce a pounds 3.5m funding package to encourage more two- year diploma courses. Vocational courses in science, technology and engineering will be funded at 46 universities.

The standard English three- year degree is out of step with the rest of Europe, where university courses are usually at least four years. Fast-track two-year degrees, such as those at the private University of Buckingham, are seen by most academics as suitable for a minority, mainly mature students.

Ministers have been alarmed by the increase in the average length of degree courses, caused partly by a switch from two-year diploma courses to degrees and partly by an increase in the number of longer degree courses in engineering, physics and mathematics. The proportion of UK students on four-year courses at the 'old' universities rose from 23 per cent to 27 per cent between 1985 and 1991.

A spokesman for the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals attacked the move. 'On the Continent, universities acknowledge that they need more than three years to reach degree standard with a broader system of education post-16.'

In Scotland, where the four- year honours degree is standard, universities fear the courses are threatened although the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council said that the matter was not under consideration.

Comments