‘Remarkable’ innovation and growth in intensive evening degrees transforms prospects at Birkbeck, University of London

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The rapid expansion of novel three-year degrees taught in the evenings has enabled Birkbeck, University of London, to thrive, according to a new report.

Professor David Latchman CBE, Master of Birkbeck, University of London

Professor David Latchman CBE, Master of Birkbeck, University of London

What is remarkable is that in one year, Birkbeck's capacity for rapid innovation has ensured our survival and success. Our new three-year evening degrees are still consistent with our mission and continue to attract non-traditional learners.

The rapid expansion of novel three-year degrees taught in the evenings has enabled Birkbeck, University of London, to thrive, according to a new report. The latest Birkbeck Briefing refers to Birkbeck’s resilience and the successful growth of its new intensive courses following the downturn in part-time student numbers caused by the major changes to university funding in 2012.

The figures presented in the document are testament to the transformation of degree provision at Birkbeck – London’s only specialist provider of evening higher education – over a 12-month period.

Birkbeck was the institution most negatively affected by the government’s withdrawal of funding and the trebling of fees in 2012 as it experienced a 45% downturn in part-time undergraduate numbers between 2011-2012 to 2012-2013. A year later, Birkbeck experienced the biggest percentage rise in undergraduate students on three-year courses, with a 308% increase in acceptances recorded by UCAS between 2011-2012 to 2013-2014.

Professor David Latchman CBE (pictured, above), Master of Birkbeck, said: “In our 191-year history Birkbeck has faced and overcome many future-threatening crises. The dramatic downturn in recruitment to our part-time evening undergraduate degrees in 2012 was the latest crisis with the potential to close us down. What is remarkable is that in one year, Birkbeck’s capacity for rapid innovation has ensured our survival and success. Our new three-year evening degrees are still consistent with our mission and continue to attract non-traditional learners of all ages and backgrounds.”

Birkbeck’s unique new three-year intensive evening degrees prepare committed students of all ages for today’s competitive global economy. Students can transform their futures and launch new careers by wrapping high-quality evening study around meaningful daytime work. This new provision, that can be completed in the same timeframe as a more traditional three-year daytime degree, has secured the future of Birkbeck.

Birkbeck’s students
Student Michael Peltier, 22, chose Birkbeck’s three-year degree in BSc Accounting because he wanted to kick-start his career by working and studying at the same time. He is successfully combining his evening studies with daytime work at a hedge fund and is eager to graduate as soon as possible. He said: “I am already seeing the fantastic benefits of studying and working simultaneously, and this intensive approach will help me in the job market in future.”

In 2013, Birkbeck nearly doubled its portfolio of intensive three-year evening undergraduate courses to complement its traditional part-time four-year evening courses. More than 2,000 students have enrolled on the three-year courses since they were introduced in 2010-2011, demonstrating the appetite for flexible, non-traditional models of higher education.

The intensive degrees are also proving particularly popular with certain groups of students. In 2013-2014, 56% of Birkbeck’s new students studying three-year courses are from a black and ethnic minority background, 71% are over 21, and 44% are from low-income households and in receipt of financial support.

The Birkbeck Briefing also highlights:

  •     what has been lost as a consequence of the downturn in part-time student numbers and the lack of policy change that really addresses the current crisis in part-time study
  •     new funding of £1.45m from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund for Birkbeck to develop its work on flexible HE models and to conduct in-depth research into how to meet the challenge of recruiting, teaching and retaining students on its new intensive courses.

Notes to editors
-Birkbeck is a world-class research and teaching institution, a vibrant centre of academic excellence and London’s only specialist provider of evening higher education.
-In 2013, Birkbeck was ranked among the top 1% of universities in the world. Birkbeck’s students consistently rank the College number one in London for the quality of its teaching.
-18,000 students study at Birkbeck every year. They join a community that is as diverse and cosmopolitan as London’s population.
-For more information about Birkbeck contact Guy Collender at 0207 380 3108, g.collender(at)bbk(dot)ac.uk or visit http://www.bbk.ac.uk .

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