Failure to attract sufficient interest has forced Cranfield University to abandon its training programme for graduate welding engineers for the current academic year.
There was just one UK applicant for its MSc course in welding technology, and five from overseas. The course, which receives no public funding, needs 10 students to be viable.
Plans are in hand to modify the programme in time for the 1998/9 academic year to take account of the needs of people who are already in work. Reducing the number of modules will help.
But the MSc Welding course could be permanently scrapped next year if the shortfall in students continues. Applicants will be offered an MSc course in Manufacturing, with welding as an option.
The tragedy, said course director Steven Blackman, is that industry is crying out for professionally qualified welding engineers trained in the latest methods, new technology and automation methods.
But those that exist are already in jobs. In the UK there are around 100 post-graduate engineers who hold the European welding engineers’ diploma – compared with 1,000 in Germany.
UK industry relies heavily on salesmen from equipment suppliers to tell them what the latest methods are.
Cranfield’s one-year full time or two-year part time MSc Welding course is the UK’s only degree course in welding.
The Welding Institute, which has seen its professional membership tail off in recent years, holds practical rather than theoretical training courses.