Budding engineers go to market

October 4, 1996

Richard Barry's hope that a cull of so-called weaker engineering faculties, as defined by input standards alone, will produce candidates who will take up training to be skilled engineering craftsmen is wishful thinking. It is also dangerous, especially at a time when there are strenuous efforts to attract more young people into an engineering career, for example, with YES, the Year of Engineering Success.

Without this and other incentives, there is a risk that many candidates may well not enter engineering at all; a situation which could prove severely detrimental to our industrial recovery.

Far better to use current and enhanced mechanisms to maintain quality of output from engineering courses, while encouraging as many candidates who have the ability and motivation to enter engineering education at the appropriate level.

Already, course accreditation by the various engineering institutions is a worthwhile performance indicator; it is not merely a rubber stamping exercise as implied by Barry.

In addition, quality assessment by the Higher Education Funding Council for England has already taken place for mechanical engineering and is now in progress for electrical and general engineering.

The value-added performance provided by some of the "weaker" faculties has already been acknowledged through the aforementioned processes and, therefore, it is crucial for the future of engineering that all factors are considered in addressing the future shape of engineering education in the universities.

John Senior Head of the department of electrical and electronic engineering Manchester Metropolitan University

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