Calls for teaching incentives

August 25, 2000

Good science and technology graduates should be encouraged to become teachers through the use of financial incentives, such as free tuition and cancelled graduate debts, according to Ron Oxburgh, rector of Imperial College, London.

Lord Oxburgh believes the moves are necessary to address a decline in qualified applicants to engineering courses. The struggle to fill places has already led to some closures. Lord Oxburgh predicts that more will follow.

Writing in Ingenia, the Royal Academy of Engineering's quarterly magazine, Lord Oxburgh suggests that the declining popularity of subjects such as physics and maths at both secondary and degree level, can only be arrested by better teaching. University resources and graduate starting salaries should be boosted to ensure that engineers remained within the profession, he said.

"The qualities of a good engineering graduate are attractive to many employers beyond engineering. There is tremendous competition with the lure of better paid jobs in the City."

Lord Oxburgh also expressed concerns about the perceptions that maths and science courses are more difficult and that the subject is "socially undesirable for teenage girls".

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