Universities offering shorter degrees will be able to charge up to £11,100 a year for the courses under Government plans, but students will be left with a smaller overall bill.
Students opting for “accelerated” degrees – which typically take two years – will save around 20% on tuition fees compared with their peers on traditional three-year courses, the Department for Education (DfE) said.
Under the proposals, universities in England will be able to charge a maximum of £11,100 for a two-year degree. The current maximum tuition fee for a typical three-year undergraduate course is £9,250.
A student on a shorter course would pay £22,200 in tuition fees, compared with £27,750 for a standard three-year degree.
The proposals are part of Government plans to encourage more institutions to offer shorter, more intense courses, with ministers arguing that traditional degrees do not suit all students such as mature learners.
Shorter degree courses have been mooted in the past, but only limited numbers are on offer.
According to Government analysis, around 2,500 undergraduates in England opt for accelerated degrees.
Concerns have been raised about the impact shorter courses could have on issues such as university staff contracts and research.
Students choosing accelerated courses have to work more intensively, while their holidays would be significantly shorter than on traditional degree programmes.
An amendment to the Higher Education Bill, allowing the Secretary of State to set higher fees for accelerated courses, was made earlier this year, and the Government is consulting on the detail of how it will be implemented.
Universities Minister Jo Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
If approved by Parliament, the changes would apply to shorter courses starting from autumn 2019.
Universities minister Jo Johnson said: “For too long we have been stuck with a system that has increasingly focused on offering only one way of benefiting from higher education, via the classic three-year degree programme.
“The passage of the Higher Education and Research Act this year has finally enabled us to break the mould of this one-size-fits-all system so students have much more choice over how they learn.
“Many will want to stick with the classic three-year university experience, but for highly motivated students hungry for a faster pace of learning and a quicker route into or back into work, at lower overall cost, two-year degrees will be well worth considering.”