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News Release

JLL’s Higher Education team comment on plans to fast-track degrees

​London, 28 February 2017 - Commenting on plans outlined by Universities Minister Jo Johnson to enable universities to offer two-year fast-track degrees to students, Robert Kingham, Director in JLL’s Higher Education team, said:

“The idea has been encouraged in the past but has not taken off. The news that universities will be able to charge around £14,000 per annum for a two-year course will lead to a re-think. It will mean that universities should be able to recoup three years’ worth of tuition fees within two years – and this financial advantage is likely to incentivise a major culture change. Universities may be more willing to tackle previous difficulties such as staff contracts and the availability of facilities.

“This announcement could have a significant effect on the way university estates are used, from the utilisation of teaching spaces to the demand and supply dynamics of student housing. In the UK, there are currently about 580,000 purpose-built student beds, and about 82% of full-time students are undergraduates. If just a third of the undergraduate students in this accommodation convert from three- to two-year courses, it might free up more than 50,000 student beds across the country. Most universities still have an under-supply of purpose-built student accommodation and so this would simply enable more students to access these beds. However, in some cities, there has been major speculative development, and hence greater potential for under-occupied properties. In both cases this would have a knock-on effect on the rented housing market.

“21-month courses, with teaching continuing in the traditional Christmas and summer breaks, would also enable universities and private sector operators to fill half of their beds each summer, whereas currently many rely on the conferencing or tourist markets during those periods. Also, we think that students will be more likely to want to stay in halls for both years, thus pushing up demand for quality accommodation that lets them focus on their studies.

“This change of pricing and structure may encourage some universities to overhaul their pricing and offer an American-style, all-inclusive tuition-plus-accommodation package. Whatever the outcome, the Government is clearly keen to incentivise universities to look at alternative options to the familiar three-year degree. The fact that it will cost the Government less in terms of maintenance loans for two-year students cannot be overlooked.”