New "no frills" uni open to students

Chris Radburn/PA

With spiraling tuition fees giving thousands of pupils second thoughts about university, it was surely only a matter of time before a lower cost option became available.

Now a "no frills" university college offering teaching seven days a week and degrees for around half the price of traditional universities will start recruiting students next week.

Coventry University College will offer professional courses including accounting, law and marketing, at a maximum cost of £4,800 for a full-time degree student. The college is an offshoot of Coventry University, but students at the new institution will not have access to the university's library, IT or sporting facilities.

Unlike the traditional long summer holiday, the university college will be open 42 weeks a year. Located alongside the university in the city centre, it will offer teaching from 7am to 10pm on weekdays, and until 4pm at weekends.

The new college comes at a pressing time for pupils with English universities able to raise their fees to a maximum of £9,000 from September 2012, with the average fee across the sector around £8,400.

Coventry University College is aimed at students worried about taking on debts to fund higher education, as well as helping employees combine work with gaining new skills.

Changing the way we study
According to the Guardian, Ian Dunn, a pro-vice chancellor at Coventry University, and one of the directors of the new university college, said: "The changes to higher education in 2012 mean everything needs to be re-thought. Many students will want to continue with the full university experience, the lifestyle experience, but there are increasing numbers of students who already have a part-time job, during their A-levels they've started work at a supermarket. This is about fitting their education around their lifestyle."

Dunn said that students will be guaranteed 20 hours of "contact time" a week, 18 hours of tuition in a group of 25 and two hours in a group of five. The pace of study will be up to them and students will able to pay as they go between six week blocks of study. A degree can be completed in less than two years or spread out over a much longer period.

Courses will be offered from next week through the university admissions system UCAS. The university's first intake will be of 1100 students, rising to 3500 over the next four years.
The "no frills" offer allows for lower costs than Coventry University, which is charging an average fee of £7,947 from next year.

"Students won't have access to all the social side of the university," Dunn said. "It will just be about learning and teaching."
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