Low take up of engineering courses forces job losses

EDUCATION: Lack of interest in engineering blamed for planned lecturer redundancies

New universities are being forced to sack engineering lecturers because they cannot fill enough places on their degree courses, it has emerged this week.

Tom Wilson, head of universities at the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (Natfhe), said at least 10 former polytechnics were planning redundancies among their engineering staff. He blamed the job losses on the decline ofstudent numbers in science and engineering courses.

Northumbria University is planning up to 140 redundancies, a number of which are believed to be in engineering. Meanwhile, Hertfordshire University has announced 100 job losses, including 55 academic posts, with the civil engineering and chemical sciences departments affected.

The redundancies follow the decision of Middlesex University to close its engineering school in July, after a dramatic decline in applicants for its courses. And, according to Wilson, this may be just the tip of the iceberg: ‘The closure of Middlesex University’s engineering department is a portent of what is to come.’ However, officials within the engineering profession said this week that course closures were to be expected.

Andrew Ramsey, director for engineers’ regulation at the Engineering Council, said redundancies were a natural effect of the organisation’s latest ‘Sartor’ regulations, which set the academic standards for entry to the engineering profession. This has been geared to reducing the numbers of poorly performing students and courses by requiring that universities set higher A-level standards and re-organise course content. ‘The inevitable consequence of this has been to give an advantage to larger engineering departments, because they can ring the changes more easily,’ he said.