The Royal Academy of Engineering will call today for a radical restructuring of engineering degrees to meet demand from the job market.
An academy study wants to brush "traditional attitudes" aside and establish just two types of engineering degree courses. It says four-year courses, leading to chartered engineer status and involving fewer students, should be the norm for "top-class" engineers. Three-year courses, leading to incorporated engineer status and involving more students, should cater for training support engineers.
John Forrest, chairman of the report working group, said: "We produce some of the best engineers in the world but many firms, especially small and medium ones, are complaining they cannot recruit the right kind of engineer."
The academy argues that the disappearance of polytechnics and expansion in degree places has led to students who would have been well suited to HND courses taking degrees.
This, coupled with greater student numbers, "has led to a number of institutions accepting students with weak qualifications". This has "devalued" the engineering degree and led to a decline in technically based courses like the HND.
The academy wants professional engineering bodies to implement a unified process of accreditation, quality assessment and quality assurance for engineering courses. It said that the current system "has become of almost no relevance to students or employers".