European students were the least likely to recognise the value, with 61% of respondents saying that two-year degrees should cost less each year in tuition fees.
The QS research surveyed over 2,700 international students who are considering or already studying in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
QS findings suggest that there is a remarkably low level of understanding among prospective and current international students of the concept of two-year degrees, with only 26% of respondents say they would be willing to pay more each year for such a program.
“In most cases, the student receives more teaching time each year, in order to attain the exact same degree”
There are several UK universities that offer two-year fast-track degrees which provide the same level of academic content as traditional three-year degree programs.
These include Anglia Ruskin University, which has been named one of the top 40 institutions in the UK. In Australia, Bond University was the first to start offering a two-year fast-track program.
The idea behind accelerated degree programs is that students save money on fees and accommodation while also getting a head start on entering employment.
But, just 21% of respondents to this survey said a fast-tracked degree program should cost the same.
When comparing by subject, creative arts and social studies had the highest percentage of students who felt a two-year degree programme should be less expensive, with 65% saying they would be less expensive.
Director of UK & Europe at QS Enrolment Solutions, Patrick Whitfield, said: “Whilst some see the value in two- year degrees and find them compelling, it is clear that there is confusion in the international student market about what two-year degrees offer.
“It could be the case that there is a lack of knowledge about the fact that – in most cases – the student receives more teaching time each year, in order to attain the exact same degree but in a shorter period of time.”
He added, “Higher education institutions need to think carefully about how to explain them with clarity and in a way that makes their value clear.”
“There is much here that universities can learn from when thinking about marketing two-year degrees”
According to QS marketing director Paul Raybould, the wording of the questionnaire was intentionally neutral as not to risk leading respondents in a particular way by ‘selling’ the value of a two-year program.
Raybould said it could be the case that many of the respondents who answered that a two-year degree should cost less than a three-year degree did not understand that both options lead to an undergraduate degree.
“There is the possibility that some respondents simply misunderstood and answered based not on the annual cost but on the total cost of studying, in which case it would be reasonable to assume that two years would be less expensive than three,” he added.
“As our first, relatively small piece of research on two-year degrees, it’s clear that these results should be viewed as provisional rather than conclusive, but even so there is much here that universities can learn from when thinking about marketing two-year degrees.”