UK needs more engineering students

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:08 am    Post subject: UK needs more engineering students Reply with quote

3 September 2007 Royal Academy of Engineering

UK needs more engineering students
Says Royal Academy of Engineering

Funding for university engineering students needs to increase by at least 50 per cent, otherwise there will be a severe shortage of high quality graduate engineers within ten years, according to the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE).

The RAE’s report, Educating Engineers for the 21st Century, warns the shortage will threaten the Government’s plan to develop the UK into a ‘knowledge economy’.

The report reflects the views of more than 400 companies and 88 UK university engineering departments. These groups concurred that industry will need more graduate engineers, and university engineering courses will need redesigning for the modern economy — hence the requirement for extra funding.

“We face a double challenge now,” says Professor Julia King, chair of the report’s working group and vice chancellor of Aston University. “Not only do we need many more engineers, we need a new type of education for them — much of the current teaching would still be familiar to engineers of my generation.”

King says the boundaries of traditional engineering disciplines are “being blurred” with the arrival of industries such as medical engineering and nanotechnology.

“If we don’t address this problem the UK could slide into insignificance as an internationally competitive nation,” adds King. The UK is now having to compete with low cost economy countries which want to move up the food chain. India and China, for example, produce over half a million engineers every year.

Meanwhile, entries to UK university engineering courses remained static between 1994 and 2004 at 24,500, although total university admissions went up by 40 per cent. Funding for engineering students at UK universities is currently £8,000 per year. “The universities estimate that they need £11,000-12,000 to teach engineering in ways which will retain and develop the UK’s historic reputation for excellence in this area,” states King. “Fixing the deficiencies in our engineering courses will not come cheaply. We need to turn the focus onto teaching so we can deliver the creative, problem-solving engineers that industry is crying out for.”

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