June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.627.1 - 12.627.9
ENGINEERING: THE UK CHALLENGE
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. https://peer.asee.org/2005
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