03:50 GMT28 November 2020
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    MPs have passed legislation that will allow universities in England and Wales to charge more for shorter courses. Sputnik spoke about it to author and digital expert Rob Abdul.

    Sputnik: MPs have passed legislation that would allow two-year courses in England and Wales to cost up to 11,000 pounds per year. Why are tuition fees for shorter, more intensive degrees raising?

    Rob Abdul: It's a dismissed position. It's purely for profit and not for educational purposes by the sounds of it, because it's more about making it profitable for universities.

    Sputnik: The Department of Education two-year courses would allow students to save at least five thousand five hundred pounds on their education as well as on living costs. However, is this a fair move to all those students choosing shorter degrees because they're on a limited financial budget?

    Rob Abdul: I don't think it's fair to them at all. It's not fair at all. It makes you think, it makes you wonder that some of these degrees, which are currently three years at the moment, can be done in two years. So it makes you wonder what are universities' objectives if they're elongating courses to three years to start with.

    Sputnik: Head of policy at the University and College Union Matt Waddup has criticised the legislation, and made the following statement to The Independent newspaper: "Instead of gimmicks which risk undermining the international reputation of our higher education sector, the government should focus on fixing the underlying problems with our current financial system which piles huge debts on students." He then added that: "Without proper safeguards, accelerated degrees will quickly become devalued, but the government shows no signs that it understands this." Also, the Shadow Minister for Higher Education Gordon Marsden commented on the tuition fees raise, and told the Independent that the increase was the "last thing", as he put it, that Ministers should be supporting. What do you think of these remarks?

    Rob Abdul: I do believe that two-year degrees are simply a trickery by the government, and they shouldn't be increasing fees, yet again. They should be making it easier for students, and not funnelling them with more debts. To take a three-year degree and make it into a two-year degree — and with all the mess that we have with Brexit at the moment as well, with our economy — I just find that making a two-year degree is sort of a making a mockery of what degrees are.

    That doesn't seem to be thought out properly. A lot of these degrees traditionally were done over three years, and to now say that it can be done in two — and by the way, "We're going to charge you more for that" — that points towards profit-making and not actually making the system any better. It's more geared towards profit for organisations than it is for the benefit of students.

    The government should be making it easier for students to access higher education and not saddling them with further debt. You know, more than more quickly. I do also believe that the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Chris Skidmore needs a reality check. He said, and I quote, "The passing of the legislation is one of the great modern-day milestones for students, and breaks the mould." I believe what would break the mould is if the government reduced tuition fees or did away with the mould all together. That'd be more deserving of being called mould-breaking.

    READ MORE: UK Education Secretary Says Brexit Deal Can't Be Won at Any Cost — Reports

    Sputnik: After being passed by MPs, the legislation will seek the approval of the House of Lords. What do you believe will happen?

    Rob Abdul: I believe the good people in the House of Lords will see sense and will debate this very well, I presume; and they will realise we've already become a national embarrassment over Brexit, and the last thing we want is our education to become a laughing matter as well. I think they will disapprove this if common sense prevails.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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