Engineering an exodus

July 14, 2000

So David Blunkett wants "vocational, non-academic GCSEs in subjects such as engineering, manufacturing and leisure and tourism".

With that attitude, I expect many of this engineering department's PhD students will continue to do as they have always done - take the first plane out of the UK. They will go to join high-tech companies in such countries as Japan and the US, where their starting salaries will greatly exceed those of the academic staff who supervised their research. Their professional status will also be higher.

As an academic and a Labour Party member, I despair of this government doing anything other than continuing the steady decline of university provision in science and engineering through negative images and years of underfunding. And the recent announcement of a Pounds 1 billion investment (News, THES, July 7) is too little too late.

Desmond McLernon School of electronic and electrical engineering, University of Leeds

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