Time is the true currency of life, so they say. Especially in this day and age, where you might feel that you’re racing against the clock to accomplish all your heart desires — academic degrees included. So what if we said you could obtain a bachelor’s degree in just two year’s time? Contributor and UK alum Hisan A. M. is here to tell you all about it.
Yep, you heard that right. There is such thing as a two-year bachelor’s degree, and it is not from some random university with a questionable reputation and unaccredited status. I would know because I studied at one.
Where can you study?
I studied at the University of Buckingham (UB). It was founded in 1973 as the first and oldest private university in the UK. Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s former Education Secretary and Prime Minister, was highly involved in the creation of the university, and even served as its chancellor at one point. Although it shared name with the Buckingham Palace in London, UB is located in a small town called Buckingham, one-hour train ride from Central London.
Despite its private status (quite unusual in the UK), the university is reviewed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) to ensure that it meets the quality standards of UK’s national higher education. The teaching standard is of high quality: UB received Gold (highest) rating for teaching excellence. It also routinely tops or inches the top of the National Student Survey (NSS) for student satisfaction. Notably, UB and its academic departments are placed highly in the general university and subject rankings for some courses.
Other than UB, two-year bachelor’s degree is also offered at other universities in the UK and Australia. Some UK universities are offering two-year bachelor’s degree for limited subjects, such as the University of Hertfordshire, Staffordshire University, Coventry University, University of Gloucestershire, Falmouth University, University of Salford, Middlesex University, and London Metropolitan University.
I predict that there will be more universities offering accelerated undergraduate degrees as the UK’s House of Lords just approved plans to expand two-year degree courses in universities last year. In Australia, the Bond University was the first to offer fast-track degrees in 1987. It seems to be the Australian equivalent of UB, as it too has been offering two-year bachelor’s degree since it was founded.
What can you study?
Other than the accelerated learning, the biggest draw to UB was the undergraduate course I was enrolled in: BA in Politics, Economics and Law (PEL). The UK is home to the famous Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), an interdisciplinary degree first offered by the University of Oxford in the 1920s. This is the degree that has educated and produced many of British leaders and, of course, Indonesia’s much-beloved singer Maudy Ayunda.
I was much more interested in Law than Philosophy, however. UB was the first and only university in England that offered PEL at the time, so I was even more convinced to study there. This course allowed me to study three subjects with equal portion and is not as restrictive and narrow in focus as other single subject courses, which is a feature of the British education system that favors depth compared to breadth.
This degree has now been offered in other universities in the UK and around the world, such as the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the UK, Dublin City University (DCU) in Ireland, Singapore Management University (SMU) in Singapore, and IE University in Spain. Two UK universities – King’s College London and the University of Warwick – offer another similar combination of subjects that is Philosophy, Politics and Law (PPL).
If social sciences and humanities are not your cup of tea, these fast-track programs also offered science subjects such as medicine and health sciences, computing, architecture, and sports science and management.
How does the program work?
Both UB and Bond University offer flexible entry in January, May and September. In an accelerated degree, you would cover the same modules and materials and get the same qualification at the end as you would on a regular, three-year degree, only in less time.
At UB, the academic year is divided into four terms compared to the regular three terms (allowing for summer holiday) or the semester system. One term consists of 10 weeks with 2-3 hours lectures and 1-hour seminars for each subject each week. In my case, I had about 10 hours of lecture (2 for politics, 2 for economics, 3 for law) and 3 hours of seminars (1 hour for each subject) each week. Similar to other universities, assignments come in the form of essays, presentations, and quizzes.
What I learned from my experience
This is my personal reflection on pursuing a bachelor’s degree in only two years:
- Courses/subject choices: Although many universities offer accelerated degrees in many subjects, you may not always find the courses you like offered in accelerated format. Regular universities still provide a lot more subjects to choose from.
- Time: A two-year degree has its own pros and cons. The program would be ideal for a subset of students, such as those who take time off work to study, mature students who have other commitments, or students with clear focus and interest, as they will finish their degree in the fastest time possible. However, they won’t have as much holiday during the academic year, which means less opportunity for internships and work/industry placement, study abroad, and holiday work. College can also be one of the best times for personal growth and exploration (and fun!). Two years is a short time; it’ll be over so fast and you’ll finish your college experience earlier than everyone else. You won’t get to spend as much time with your college friends.
- Academic study: Module choices and classes in a fast-track bachelor’s degree can feel restrictive as you’ll need to complete the core subjects’ requirements for your degree and you may not have as much flexibility, depth and breadth to explore your own course subject(s) or other academic interests. You have to work hard and manage your time well as accelerated learning means accelerated assessments! Missing classes and other acts of negligence will have more significant, consequential impact as you don’t have much time to complete your degree (otherwise it will defeat the purpose of an accelerated degree). But don’t worry, if you keep organized and stay on top of things, you’ll still have time for fun, travel and being social with your friends!
- Finance: You will save money on tuition fees and living cost. Tuition fees are roughly the same as in other UK universities, but you will save a year worth of these and living cost, and you will start earning earlier before your peers. This is one of the main benefits of a fast-track degree!
- Post-university career: You will have to start thinking and planning earlier about what you want to do after you graduate. Finishing your degree earlier means you can go into the job market or further studies faster, but it also means that you have to prepare for it earlier during your degree. On top of the academic pressure, you may have to start applying for jobs and postgraduate courses before you graduate to ensure that there’s no gap after finishing your degree.
All in all, I had a great time during my university and would recommend it with confidence if you’re looking for a different experience or just want to accelerate your career! Feel free to contact me to ask more questions.