Budding engineers go to market

October 4, 1996

Richard Barry's article is an interesting proposal but worthy of further testing. There are no academic absolutes in the criteria employed to determine admissions to any degree course. The A-level points score required simply reflects the market: the minimum admission level is used to match available places to the best applicants.

While it would be desirable to see larger numbers of highly qualified entrants, the fact that there are not is because of a continuing cultural and social aversion to entering the engineering profession. Better national encouragements to enter engineering would help, as would broader post-16 education provision (Leader, THES, September 6). But bashing a large number of high-quality university engineering departments because of their inability to recruit higher A-level entrants is not fair.

Such students form the minority of entrants anyway. Only around 20 per cent of applicants to electrical engineering degree courses in 1995/96 offered more than 18 points.

Our concern should be directed at the outcome capabilities of our graduates, not their input qualifications.

BARRY PLUMB Dean and pro-vice chancellor Manchester Metropolitan University

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