The proposal in Sir Ron Dearing’s report on the future of higher education to pass some of the costs of running university degree courses to students, has been well trailed and is an inevitable consequence of the expansion of education at this level.
As The Engineer went to press it was not clear if Dearing has included any specific recommendations to safeguard high cost technology and engineering degrees.
But the specific proposal to recharge graduates £1,000 a year towards the costs a typical degree could have an effect on the size and make-up of the engineering student population. For many students the financial burden is bound to make them think harder and longer about the type of degree course they follow and why they are doing it.
For the engineering industry the changes offer opportunities and threats. Some of the obvious threats are that graduates will be even more focused on rewards and may be pulled towards jobs outside industry offering higher salaries – although many engineering employers argue that a focus on the outcomes of a degree will help recruitment. And there must now be some worries about the financial implications of the proposals for four-year degree courses put forward in the Engineering Council’s Sartor proposals.
The opportunity for employers clearly lies in responding to the changes to attract the brightest and best students on to engineering degree courses and then into careers in industry. Part of this means creating the right sort of sponsorship deals, work experience programmes, and graduate training courses to suit the changing world.