Engineering a drama 1

February 7, 2003

Sa'ad Medhat complains that four-year accredited MEng is failing to attract students ("A new beginning for a strained relationship", THES , January 24). But why complain when the Engineering Council raised the academic standard for chartered status because industry needed fewer but better-qualified graduates?

A Universities and Colleges Admissions Service analysis of engineering entrants at 18 Ucas points or above showed numbers had increased. The overall drop in student numbers is because fewer are applying for courses demanding less than 18 A-level equivalent points.

Medhat says that "employers increasingly demand graduates with practical skills and knowledge". These are clearly not the employers who say things move so fast that skills and knowledge will be out of date before the student graduates. They need business-aware graduates with a grasp of fundamentals and generic skills. Employers are not the universities' customers, the students are, although they will not be happy if they do not get jobs. But word spreads fast, and courses and universities that fail in this respect do not last.

Tom G. F. Gray

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