Two-year degrees must deliver right skills

Plans to introduce two-year university degrees must address business concerns about the employability of students and not just be about reducing debt, employers have warned.

Five universities – Staffordshire, Derby, Leeds Metropolitan, Northampton and The Medway Partnership in Kent – will pilot the plan from September, which the government hopes will attract more students into higher education.

The length of courses will be reduced by turning the long summer holiday into an extra term.

Higher education minister, Bill Rammell, said the plans would encourage more students to take degrees and help the UK to compete in the future with the likes of India and China.

However, Paul Farrer, chief executive officer of the Graduate Recruitment Company, said the plans would do nothing to increase the employability of students or to improve the talent pool for employers.

“By taking away summer holidays, the government will deny students access to work experience, something that employers value as much as a degree,” he said.

A CBI spokesman said the government should focus on making sure degrees deliver skills that improve graduates’ employability rather than on the length of study.

The CBI’s 2005 Employment Trends Survey showed three-quarters (76%) of employers said they were dissatisfied with levels of business awareness from people entering work.

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