By Samuel Capper
So here’s my main problem with three year degrees as they currently stand – the first year is largely redundant. Now I know that they’re good for ‘breaking in’ Freshers and providing a framework for the university experience, but that’s about it. They increase your student debt whilst providing no meaningful contribution towards your final degree. Exams and coursework are treated like the real thing, and therefore first year remains stressful to many students.
Moreover, many topics covered in first year are seldom used afterwards once students can pick their modules. If students can pick their chosen modules straight away, it would negate the ‘cramming’ argument against two year courses – seeing as there is less to cover, there is no need to cram information. Plus, you save money, and let’s be honest, what student doesn’t want that? The idea that we spend our lives paying back endless debt is enough to stop some of us from going to university in the first place.
The only downside I can see of normalising two year courses is there is no ‘trial’ period. The first year of university has always been renowned for the carefree attitude it evokes in Freshers. A year of drinking and partying, needing only to make the 40% pass rate. Perhaps this could still be included, however. I would suggest having a Freshers term, which doesn’t count, but then the next term of your first year does, where you pick your modules. This gives us an opportunity to make friends, find ourselves and get a taste of university life before we spend all our time in the library, and then an opportunity to actually settle down. Combined with the ever-growing student mentoring scheme, I can envisage this providing everything students need to get started, whilst both saving money and time.
Whilst I would always recommend picking the course that’s right for you, whether it be two or three, or even four years long, I definitely think that there should be two year courses, and I would have seriously considered taking one, if given the opportunity.