Athena SWAN call in engineering report

Engineering departments bidding for £200 million of new capital funds for teaching should only be eligible if they are signed up to Athena SWAN

November 4, 2013

That is one of the recommendations of a review of engineering skills in the UK by John Perkins, the chief scientific adviser to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills.

The call is one of several designed to increase the quality and number of students studying engineering at university to prevent a new wave of skills shortages in the profession.

Professor Perkins hopes that departments showing commitment to gender diversity will help boost the number of women studying for engineering degrees. Only 15 to 16 per cent of applicants to undergraduate engineering degrees are currently female.

Mr Willetts, the universities and science minister, announced the extra £200 million in funding last month for teaching facilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

He said winning bids should show “evidence of commitment to equality and diversity”.

According to Professor Perkins’ report, Review of Engineering Skills, demand for engineering degrees is growing overall. Over the past seven years, the number of students accepted on to degree courses has risen 20 per cent but some universities are not expanding to accommodate demand.

A recent report by the Royal Academy of Engineering highlighted the increasing number of applicants and rising Ucas tariffs at pre-1992 universities with no corresponding expansion, for example.

There are also signs that engineering departments at some institutions are in decline, according to the Perkins report. Student numbers are falling in electrical and electronic engineering, and manufacturing and production engineering.

In light of the increasingly market-driven higher education system, Professor Perkins also calls for a review of funding arrangements to ensure that engineering courses remain sustainable.

The report says that fewer master’s students are being supported by employers while the proportion of self-funded students has risen from 42 per cent to 68 per cent over the same period.

Meanwhile, the take up of career development loans, which are offered by commercial banks to fund postgraduate students, remains low. Professor Perkins suggests in his report that universities work more closely with banks and the government to make sure that students are more aware of such loans.

Professor Perkins said that higher education was the “pinnacle” of the engineering skills system and had a “strong international standing and reputation”.

“To maintain and enhance this position, and the quality and capacity of the engineering HE system, future investment in facilities, and strong engagement by industry and the profession will be essential,” he added.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate