Variation in the length of an undergraduate degree: participation and outcomes

Peter Davies*, Kim Slack, Chris Howard

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Recent policy in England has advocated the introduction of fast-track degrees to provide an alternative, shorter route to a bachelor's degree. It has been argued that this will widen participation in higher education and increase labour market flexibility by providing an option in which undergraduates spend one fewer years out of the labour market. Critics have suggested that the outcomes from this new undergraduate option will be worse than those for students following the standard length of undergraduate degree (which is three years for most subjects studied at universities in England). This criticism is based on a belief that students on the shorter degrees will be encouraged to 'cram', having less opportunity for reflection that will foster a deep understanding. These arguments are evaluated using data which compare students following two and three year degrees in the same subjects at the same university.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)431-447
    Number of pages17
    JournalStudies in Higher Education
    Issue number4
    Early online date12 May 2011
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


    • fast-track degrees
    • flexibility
    • study orientation


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