Julie Mennell has been appointed chair of the newly established UK Forensic Science Education Group
Universities have been accused of cashing in on the success of TV crime dramas and rushing to deliver courses with the word "forensic" in the title, with little regard for the needs of students and the industry.
So it is not before time that Julie Mennell, dean of Northumbria University's School of Applied Sciences, takes up the post of chair of the new UK Forensic Science Education Group, which aims to improve links between academics and the forensic science industry.
Professor Mennell, who moved to Northumbria last year from Teesside University, will lead a group that brings together 11 universities, the Association of Chief Police Officers and a range of bodies including several police forces and the Higher Education Academy.
She said there were two general types of course: one uses "forensic" in its broadest sense and does not require a science background, while forensic science is geared towards a science career.
"Our aim is to ensure that undergraduate degrees fully meet the needs of the industry in future," Professor Mennell said. "By working in partnership, we believe we are best placed to address the issues head on."
The new group is collaborating with the HEA's Physical Sciences Centre to run a series of workshops. These range from practical skills in crime scene investigation to what is needed in terms of skills and accreditation, and will start next month.
Professor Mennell is a Leeds University graduate who served as a police officer in Lancashire before returning to higher education. She worked with police forces including the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police, the Algerian Gendarmerie and the Botswana Police Service.