Playing the numbers game

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 May, 2007, 12:00am

Some European states are keen on three-year basic degrees followed by one to two-year master's courses, because they are cheaper, an academic has said.

Edward Vickers, a senior lecturer at the Institute of Education of the University of London, said for governments, the main advantage was cost.

'In countries such as Germany, university students have often taken seven years or more to complete their first degrees, meaning many do not enter the workforce until they are into their late twenties,' he said.

A three-year undergraduate curriculum has been taken up by the Bologna process that works towards the creation of a European Higher Education Area by 2010.

The process recommends:

- Bachelor-level degree: a higher education qualification requiring between 180 and 240 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), a common procedure for recognising studies completed abroad. It normally takes three years of full-time study to complete this degree.

- Master-level degree: a one-to-two year master's degree requiring between 90 and 120 ECTS credits with a minimum requirement of 60 ECTS credits.

- Joint Degrees: degree programmes jointly developed by two or more institutions. These qualifications are still being developed.

- Double Degrees: a double degree is two or more degrees given by two or more higher education institutions for the same study programme.