Accelerated degrees in higher education: Literature review

Pollard E, Hadjivassiliou K, Swift S, Green M |   | Department for Education | Mar 2017

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This report presents the findings of a literature review conducted by IES on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (though now published by the Department for Education due to the transfer of policy responsibility). The literature review considers undergraduate accelerated degrees and aims to establish whether such degrees are an alternative to and more flexible mode of study than traditional degrees.

In the UK, there are currently only a modest number of modern universities offering undergraduate accelerated degrees. These tend to focus on widening participation and a more innovative approach to delivery. In contrast, in the USA the adoption of this form of degree is far more widespread.

This literature review considers the evidence and current thinking about undergraduate accelerated degrees, and offers insights on:

  • defining accelerated degrees;
  • concerns levelled at these degrees and flexible learning more broadly;
  • benefits of these types of degree; and
  • what could be done to encourage the adoption and further offering of such degrees.

The report is complimented by an analysis of several case studies conducted in higher education institutions in the UK that offer either accelerated degrees or flexible modes of study.