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IMechE predicts 'dangerous shortfall' in UK engineering graduates

31 January 2012

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has brought attention to UCAS figures showing an overall 1.3% drop in students applying for engineering degrees as being a "worrying sign" of the dangerous shortage of engineering skills that will hit the UK in coming years. IMechE director of engineering, Colin Brown says the drop may be small but hugely worrying.

“If we are to recover we need engineers to help boost manufacturing industries, to ensure secure and low carbon energy supplies and to develop major projects like HS2", he says. “Ultimately the drop in student numbers may also lead to job cuts at some universities with effects on engineering departments that will be difficult to reverse.”

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Higher Education Tuition Fees position statement released on Monday (January 30) recommends that:

• Government links its Higher Education policy to its plans for economic growth, reducing tuition fees for subjects that are of long term value to the economy;
• Government should introduce a system to progressively write off student debt for students with degrees in strategically important and vulnerable subjects and who achieve agreed professional qualifications in a related occupation;
• The forthcoming all-age career service be specifically tasked to identify and address the concerns that less-advantaged school-leavers have about university study;
• Government underwrites university engineering departments for a period of three years to ensure continuity of provision while a potentially turbulent situation beds down.

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