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Engineering Education: The Uk Challenge

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

International Case Studies:Collaborations, Exchanges & Interactions

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.627.1 - 12.627.9

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Paper Authors


Ian Robinson Edge Hill University

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Professor Ian Robinson is the Dean of Quality Enhancement at Edge Hill University and was previously Professor of Engineering Education at Sheffield Hallam University. Technically he specialised in electrical drives and power electronics, but now spends much of his time working in the area of engineering pedagogy and academic quality. He is a member of the International Liaison Group for Engineering Education and is a member of the editorial board of Engineering Education, the Journal of the Higher Education Academy Engineering Subject Centre.

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Michael Bramhall Sheffield Hallam University

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Mike is Head of Learning, Teaching and Assessment at Sheffield Hallam University's Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences. He is the Associate Director of the Centre for Promoting Learner Autonomy at Sheffield Hallam. He is also the Associate Director of the UK Centre for Materials Education at Liverpool University, which is part of the UK Higher Education Academy.

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John Rowe Sheffield Hallam University

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Dr Rowe is a member of the teaching staff in the Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences at Sheffield Hallam University. He has taught for 21 years in microelectronics and IT in higher education. His current areas of research are in the search for quality in higher education, research methodologies and teaching and learning in technical education.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



This paper reviews experiences of the development of teamwork and leadership skills, personal reflection, planning and other transferable skills within engineering bachelors degrees within the UK over the last 15 years, illustrated by examples from one particular University. It provides a picture of the current state of UK engineering education, and reflects upon strengths and weaknesses. Comparisons are drawn with both European and North American provision and includes a view of the possible future for British Engineering Education.


Within the UK, there are three principal drivers and influencers for Bachelors programmes of Higher Education (HE):

• The employment market for graduates • The funding available to provide degree level education • Professional and Statutory Regulatory Body (PSRB) and Government requirements

The employment market

With a few exceptions (typically where the national Government wishes to control the supply of graduates, for example teachers, doctors, nurses), UK universities are free to design degree courses and to offer them to potential students. Clearly the most successful courses will attract applications if they are able to offer a strong likelihood of employment upon graduation. It is thus crucially important for universities to be aware of the employment market, and over the past several decades most universities have only developed new provision in vocational subjects. Non-vocational areas have very little attraction to students, and the volume of such provision has declined significantly.

The funding regime

The British Government provides each English University with approximately 50% of the funding necessary to educate a Bachelors student. Universities charge additional annual fees of between £1200 and £3000, the permitted fee range being regulated by central Government. It is only relatively recently that Universities were required to charge students directly for their tuition. A mandatory £1200 fee was introduced in the mid 1990s, and the extension of the fee limit to £3000pa was introduced in 2005. The total fee accruing from an engineering Bachelors student is insufficient to pay the actual cost of delivering laboratory-based education, and so universities rely upon distributing the surplus fees from other discipline areas and other business activities to support science and technology provision.

The majority of students secure loans from the English Student Loan Company in order to pay their fees; the debt being collected through the taxation system over the graduate’s working life.

Robinson, I., & Bramhall, M., & Rowe, J. (2007, June), Engineering Education: The Uk Challenge Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015