Just because it is cheaper doesn’t make it inferior…

The announcement from the government that two year degrees will be offered with a minimum £5,500 saving compared to the more ‘conventional’ three or four year programmes is hardly news to us at the Edge Hotel School, but welcome none the less.

Whilst the article  by BBC education correspondent, Sean Coughlan, on 10 December, tends to focus on the financial advantage to students, it is good to see that the government is also promoting the many benefits and the academic credibility of accelerated programmes. This is an aspect which two year course providers also need to emphasise more in their marketing and promotion.

The adage ‘too good to be true’ has often been applied by students and parents to the offer of two year accelerated degrees with the assumption that a lower duration programme equates to lower academic standards, less class contact or an inferior service. Nothing could be further from the truth.

At the Edge Hotel School, we are immensely proud that our courses are validated by the University of Essex, which ranks 22nd in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, and, justifiably, we are required to maintain their high academic standards.

The contact and applied learning time for two year degrees is similar to those of ‘conventional’ degrees and, for the avoidance of doubt, whilst most students will be sitting around at home at Christmas and New Year, our two year degree students will be continuing their studies and working in our 4* hotel, Wivenhoe House, over this period. Ironically not only do many students actually enjoy working over the holidays, but they feel that this demonstrates both their commitment to the course and our industry as well as their professionalism. The 94% employment rate of our graduates attests to the fact that this opinion is reflected by employers too.

For some students, a more relaxed schedule with long vacation periods where they can ‘find themselves’ is an attraction of student life and indeed, so it should be. This said, there also needs to be recognition that other students are keen to manage their time, have the commitment and maturity to study intensively and to gain entry to their chosen profession in a shorter time period. Indeed, a Department for Education commissioned study of accelerated degrees identified that, ‘the students accepted on these programmes were very academically capable, and providers felt that this delivery model is best suited to the brightest and most driven students because of its intensity’.

Whilst I completely acknowledge that two year accelerated degrees may not be appropriate for some subjects, and indeed may not fit everyone’s vision of student life, it is worth bearing in mind that the cost of tuition should be only one of a number of factors that potential students should consider when selecting their higher education degree course.