New! DATA BLOG: Grade inflation?

Earlier this month, the OfS published a new release of degree classification data, concluding that the growing proportion of the first and upper second class degrees awarded cannot be fully explained by factors linked with degree attainment. Specifically, the new analysis finds that in 2017-18, 13.9 percentage points’ worth of first-class degree attainment is unexplained by changes in the graduate population since 2010-11, an increase of 2.4 percentage points from the unexplained attainment in 2016-17. So we have it – grade inflation.

So, we’ve fished some unfiltered HESA data out of our archives, updated it, and looked at the distributions between first, second and third-class honours in engineering. And it seems that engineering paints a very different (worse?) picture than the sector as a whole. We award a notably higher proportion of firsts and, at a glance, a commensurately lower proportion of 2nd class honours. The proportion of 3rd class honours/pass awarded has come into line with the all subjects over recent years. It varies by engineering discipline, but nowhere is the proportion of firsts lower than for all subjects.

You might think, then, that high-level degree awards in engineering (firsts plus upper-class seconds) were nothing to write home about. But in 2016/17, at 77.3%, the proportion of high-level degree awards in engineering was one percentage point higher than for all subjects (and the difference has fluctuated around the one percent mark for the past ten years).

A simplified index plot, where 1 (the central y axis) represents all subjects, shows the propensity of a first in engineering is consistently greater than for all subjects (where the longer the bar, the greater the over-representation). The over-representation of firsts in engineering has shown a notable reduction over the past ten years and, at 1.4, was at its lowest yet in 2017/18. The overrepresentation of third-class honours in engineering visible from 2007/08 to 2015/15 has now been eliminated. You can see from this analysis that the over-representation of firsts is in fact greater than the combined under-representation of 2:1s and 2:2s.

So, what does this tell us? That the rise in higher degree classifications doesn’t apply to engineering? The number of high-level degrees in engineering has increased from 10,180 in 2007/8 to 18,690 in 2017/8, an increase of 83.6%. Proportionally, this has risen from 62.7% of all degree awards in engineering to 77.3%. That’s just marginally less proportional growth than the 14.9 percentage point difference for all subjects. But we are making progress.

Here’s the rub, who’s to say that rises in high-level degree classifications (which, sector-wide, cannot be explained by the data readily available – not my data) is necessarily a problem per se, or that is signals grade inflation? There are many reasons – not accounted for in the OfS statistical models – for degree outcome uplift, not least the massive expansion of student numbers in the last 20 years (leading to a less socially constrained pool of students); greater awareness of student support needs; the increased cost of higher education to students; more incentivised and focused students; and improved teaching in both schools and universities. Further, there is evidence that market forces; course enrolments; progression rules (e.g. progression from BEng to MEng requires achievement of marks for the first two or three years of study suggesting a minimum 2:1 standard, and therefore likely transfer of the best students away from the BEng); and the marking processes adopted by different subject areas impacts the proportion of upper degrees between subjects.

The evidence of improvement in teaching (and the development of pedagogy in UK universities) is much stronger than the evidence for grade inflation. As a discipline, this is what we must celebrate. Higher education (HE) is the gold standard in the delivery of engineering skills in the UK and has a strong international standing and reputation.

Let’s face it, the assumption that institutions need to account for grade inflation rather than educational improvement is perverse. Instead, let’s talk about and encourage innovation in teaching, learning and assessment, precisely what our New Approaches to Engineering Higher Education initiative (in partnership with the IET) aims to do. Earlier this year we launched six case study examples for each of the six new approaches, evidencing that the required changes can be achieved – are already being achieved – and we now want other institutions who have been inspired to come up with new approaches of their own to showcase their work at a New Approaches conference at the IET in November. More details will be circulated shortly.

Attribution: EPC analysis of HESA Student Qualifiers Full Person Equivalent (FPE) using Heidi Plus Online Analytics service.

Bid to host EPC Congress in 2020 or 2021

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 19th June 2019

Proposals are invited from higher education Engineering departments to host the Engineering Professors’ Council Annual Congress in 2020 or 2021.

‘Hosting the 2018 Engineering Professors’ Council Congress was a great way to showcase the University’s work to a wide range of experts in the field as well as to the professional bodies in engineering.  Our staff and students gained a lot from explaining their approach to engineering education and research, and we were also able to explore new collaborations to broaden the reach of our engineering activities.  We were delighted to welcome the EPC to Harper Adams and hope that other universities taking the opportunity act as the venue for the Congress will gain as much from the experience as we have.’
David Llewellyn, Vice-Chancellor, Harper Adams University (hosts of the 2018 Annual Congress) 

The Annual Congress is the flagship event in the EPC calendar, an opportunity for engineering academics from across the UK to come together to explore policy and practice and to network.

Download guidelines.

Download the form for submitting a proposal.

Each year, Congress is hosted by a different institution: 

The Congress usually takes place in April or May and lasts two days with a reception on the evening before the Congress formally starts.

  • 2016: The University of Hull hosted Congress as a prestigious addition to its preparations as European City of Culture. 
  • 2017: Coventry University hosted taking the opportunity to demonstrate the city’s close associated with transport engineering and manufacturing. 
  • 2018: Harper Adams University displayed its cutting edge status as a leading centre of agricultural engineering including automated farming and a range of off-road vehicles. 
  • 2019: UCL is host for this year’s congress where its proximity to the seat of Government has allowed an amazing line-up of high-profile speakers on a range of policy issues at a time of historic challenges. 

The host institution nominates a Congress Convenor who will become a member of the EPC Board for up to three years (2019-21 for the 2020 Convenor; 2020-22 for the 2021 Convenor) and who, with guidance from the EPC executive team, will lead the organisation of the Congress, including determining the themes and scope for the Congress, and the speakers and events. 

We are inviting bids to act as host for either of the next two years. You can specify one year or the other or apply without choosing a year. We will not select the same host for both years.

Download guidelines.

Download the form for submitting a proposal.


To submit a proposal, complete the form here and email it to Johnny Rich, Chief Executive, at j.rich@epc.ac.ukby 19thJune 2019. Johnny can also be contacted at the same address or by phone on 078-1111 4292 to discuss any aspect of Congress or the proposal process. 


What is expected from the host

The host institution (host) would be expected to provide:

  • an academic of suitable standing to act as Convenor and other staff resource as necessary to assist planning the Congress;
  • suitable function rooms such as a lecture theatre and smaller break-out rooms, as well as space for networking;
  • catering for the Congress;
  • possibly accommodation, particularly, for early career staff delegates to the Congress who may be provided free accommodation in student residences;
  • management of the Congress during the event;
  • financial accountability in accordance with the financial arrangements (see below).

There will be some support from the EPC executive, but it is advisable to ensure that the host can provide conference support staff as the smooth running of the Congress will primarily be the Convenor’s responsibility.

The Congress usually attracts up to 100 delegates, but the numbers have grown in recent years and the host should be able to provide for 150.


Selection process

The process for selection as host involves submission of your proposal to the EPC Board, which will conduct a vote. The basis for its decision is entirely at its discretion, but they will take into account issues such as the nominated Convenor, the suitability of the facilities, the arrangements for costs, the geographical suitability (although the EPC is keen not always to be restricted to big centres of population), the suggested activities such as Congress Dinner venue and other attractions, and other arrangements to ensure the smooth running of the Congress.

The host institution must be a member of the EPC. We would particularly welcome joint proposals from separate institutions to host jointly, such as two engineering departments at separate universities in the same city.


Financial arrangements

The suggestion for the financial arrangement between the EPC and the host forms part of the proposal. The EPC will seek to minimise its risk and, if possible, would like to generate a surplus from the event to contribute to its own in-house costs in running the Congress. However, the quality of the event and its appeal to members will be of greater weight in selecting the host institution.

That said, it may be helpful to provide as guidance the following arrangement that has been used in the past. The EPC would hope that the host would aim to meet at least this arrangement:

Costs may be divided into three categories as follows:

  • ‘External costs’: ie. costs that will genuinely have to be met, such as catering, external venue hire, student ambassadors, etc. The EPC would guarantee all these external costs and, if necessary, would pay them up-front. In any case, the EPC would be liable for these costs.
  • ‘Internal costs’: such as staff who are already employed by the host. The host would guarantee these costs and, in the event that registration income was insufficient to meet them, the host would be liable for them.
  • ‘Internal fees’: where the only cost to the host is a notional price that it sets internally – room hire, for instance. Once the two types of costs above have been met from revenue, 75% of any remainder may be used to defray the host’s internal fees and the other 25% will be due to the EPC to defray our internal costs and fees. After the host’s internal fees have been met, any surplus would be split equally.

The proposal should make it clear whether the host proposes to manages the bookings process and receive the registration fees or would prefer this to be handled by the EPC. If the host receives the fees, after the Congress it will be expected to provide a full account of income and expenditure (outlining the categories of expense as above, if that model is used). If the EPC receives the fees, the host may invoice the EPC for costs in accordance with the agreement. In either case, the host will be expected to agree with the EPC a full budget for the Congress at the earliest opportunity (and before substantial Congress planning) and would not be entitled to incur costs on behalf of the EPC outside the agreed budget without separate agreement.

While the host will be responsible for setting the registration fees and packages for delegates, these must be agreed in advance with the EPC. These should not include a more than 10% increase on equivalent packages for the previous year. A significant number of places for early careers staff (not more than 5 years in an academic post) should be made available at the lowest possible rate (including, ideally, some complimentary places).

In some years, the host has acted as a major sponsor of the event contributing to the costs or not passing on some or all of the costs it incurs. Any such support would be acknowledged and the EPC will seek to support the host’s objectives in sponsoring Congress. Any other sponsorship revenue will normally be retained by the EPC or used to offset the costs of running the Congress.

The OfS consultation on quality and standards in a nutshell

The Office for Students has just launched a consultation on one of the most important changes to its practice since its inception. What does it say? We’ve summarised the key takeaways.

In 2017, the Higher Education & Research Act (HERA) dissolved HEFCE, which was a funding body, and replaced it with the OfS which began work the following year as the regulator of higher education in England. In the process it subsumed the remaining activities of HEFCE and OFFA (the Office for Fair Access). 

Since then, some of OfS’s main activities have included establishing a register of approved higher education institutions and signing off on the ‘Access and Participation Plans’ of those institutions that want to be able to claim funding via the Student Loans Company. 

The OfS’s regulation of HE quality and standards has been through signalling and recognisable processes, mostly farmed out under a contract with the QAA. There have been a few interventions from OfS on grade inflation, unconditional offers and TEF, but these haven’t been accompanied by significant new regulatory controls. 

Although OfS does have powers in case of failure (and it has used them by rejecting the registration of a few institutions), its light-touch approach was in keeping with the spirit of HERA, which, during its difficult passage through the Lords was amended to include an explicit commitment to the autonomy of higher education institutions (HEIs) over their admissions and the education they deliver. 

But now the OfS is consulting on a what it calls “tougher minimum standards” with the threat of fines and even deregistration for HEIs that don’t meet them. These powers, it is proposed, will be exercised not merely at an institutional level, but at a subject level too, which, in effect, might allow OfS to exert direct or indirect pressure on an HEI into closing a department whose metrics looked like underperformance. 

The EPC will be responding to this consultation on behalf of members and we’re keen to hear what you think. We will be inviting members views through a survey shortly. (Come back here for the link.) To help you, we’ve provided the following summary of the proposals.

So what are the proposals? There are four areas:

1. “Define ‘quality’ and ‘standards’ more clearly for the purpose of setting the minimum baseline requirements for all providers”

‘Quality’ will be defined in a metric way. This is, it is said, intended to reduce the regulatory burden. The metrics will relate to five areas: access and admissions; course content, structure and delivery; resources and academic support; successful outcomes; secure standards. 

The inclusion of ‘access’ does not mean wider participation targets, but rather admitting students who “have the capability and potential to successfully complete their course”. OfS has been explicit in saying that it “is not acceptable for providers to use the proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds they have as an excuse for poor outcomes”. In other words, they are rejecting the idea that non-academic circumstances or lower prior attainment might be mitigating circumstances for lower (according to the metrics) student outcomes. The argument put forward is that using the greater challenges of certain students as an “excuse” would “risk baking disadvantage into the regulatory system”.

The goalposts will be different for new HE institutions, because they can’t be judged on track record.

OfS will also set ‘standards’ for higher education – that is any courses beyond A level or equivalent (so that means drawing higher apprenticeships and other programmes into a unified quality framework). These standards will involve “sector-recognised” definitions of achievement – in other words, OfS intends to establish common standards for degree grades.

2. “Set numerical baselines for student outcomes and assess a provider’s absolute performance in relation to these”

OfS would impose “a numerical baseline”: this is intended to be a cliff edge for outcomes metrics, namely continuation to second year, course completion and progression into graduate-level work or further study. (There’s also a reference to employer satisfaction, but as there are no measures for that, it’s only an aside.) If you fall off the cliff, there’s a range of sanctions (see below) including fines or even deregistration of the institution.

What will matter is absolute – not relative – data. There is a reference to considering the context, but this is more to do with what may have changed rather than a profile of the student body. Unequivocally, the consultation paper states, “We would not set lower regulatory requirements for providers that recruit students from underrepresented groups, or with protected characteristics.” The idea is to spell out “more challenging” minimum standards that students can expect. 

Further consultation will be conducted around the exact metrics.

3. “Clarify the indicators and approach used for risk-based monitoring of quality and standards”

As the metric used for the baseline are about things that have happened in the past, the OfS proposes to keep an eye on potential risks in institutions by monitoring other metrics and being clear about which metrics those are. Among those mentioned are admissions data (offers, grades achieved, student demographics), student complaints, National Student Survey results, other regulators’ and PSRBs’ activities, TEF, and the outcomes metrics as above. It should be noted, by the way that NSS is currently under a separate OfS review and we’ve been awaiting the publication of an independent Review of TEF for DfE for nearly two years (which is believed to be critical).

There may be some extra data gathering and reporting for universities, but the intention is to minimise the need for unnecessary interference in the long-run by identifying risks before they become problematic outcomes. 

4. “Clarify our approach to intervention and our approach to gathering further information about concerns about quality and standards”

This proposal sets out what might be called a precautionary approach to intervention. In other words, the OfS makes it clear they would be willing to step in to investigate or gather evidence in the case of a feared risk of an institution failing to meet quality thresholds. 

It also sets out their available “enforcement” actions: impose conditions on an institution in order for it to continue to be registered; issue a fine; suspend some of the privileges of being registered (such as access to student loan funding for fees or OfS public grants); remove an institution’s degree-awarding powers or its right to use ‘University’ in its title; deregistration.

Please note: This precis is intended as guidance only. The aim has been to summarise the proposals objectively while providing some interpretation of their implications. Necessarily this involves some subjective inference and the omission of details. We advise referring to the OfS’s own consultation documents for the full details. Also, if you feel we have interpreted any proposals wrongly, unfairly or left out critical details, please let us now and we can make changes to this summary as needed.

The Great Grading Scandal Engineering Challenge

This guest blog has been kindly provided by Dr Dennis Sherwood of Silver Bullet machine, an intelligent innovation consultancy, who was a speaker at the first of this year’s Recruitment & Admission Forum series of webcasts.


Calling all engineers!

Engineers love solving problems, and are very good at it. So this blog poses a real problem, a problem that has eluded solution for at least a decade, and a problem that does much damage every year. You are invited to think of a solution – or indeed more than one – and either post your thoughts in the comments on this page or in the thread on the Engineering Academics Network page on LinkedIn.

The problem – the Great Grading Scandal

Every year, about 6 million GCSE, AS and A level grades are awarded in England. And every year, about 1.5 million of those grades are wrong – about half too high, half too low. That’s, on average, 1 wrong grade in every 4. In this context, “wrong” means “the originally-awarded grade would be changed if the script were to be re-marked by a senior examiner, whose mark, and hence grade, is deemed by Ofqual, the exam regulator, to be ‘definitive’” – or, in more every-day language, ‘right’. 

But when a student is informed “Physics, Grade B”, the student is more likely to think “Oh dear, I didn’t do as well as I had hoped”, rather than “the system got it wrong – the grade should have been an A”. So there are very few appeals: for example in 2019 in England, there were 343,905 appeals resulting in 69,760 grade changes, when in fact, as I have just mentioned, nearly 1.5 million grades were wrong.  Exam grades are therefore highly unreliable, but very few people know. That’s what I call the “Great Grading Scandal”.

The evidence – Ofqual’s research

Ofqual’s November 2018 report, Marking Consistency Metrics – An update, presents the results of a study in which whole cohorts of GCSE, AS and A level scripts, in each of 14 subjects, were marked twice, once by an ordinary examiner and once by a senior examiner.  For each subject, Ofqual could then determine the percentage of the originally-awarded grades for each subject that were confirmed by a senior examiner, so determining a measure of the reliability of that subject’s grades. Since this research involved whole cohorts, the results are unbiased – unlike studies based on appeals, which tend to be associated with scripts marked just below grade boundaries.

If grades were fully reliable, 100% of the scripts in each subject would have their original grades confirmed. In fact, Ofqual’s results ranged from 96% for Maths to 52% for the combined A level in English Language and Literature. Physics grades are about 88% reliable; Economics, about 74%; Geography, 65%; History, 56%. The statement “1 grade in 4 is wrong” is an average, and masks the variability by subject, and also by mark within subject (in all subjects, any script marked at or very close to a grade boundary has a probability of about 50% of being right – or indeed wrong).

The cause – “fuzzy” marks

Why are there so many erroneous grades? The answer is not because of “sloppy marking”, although that does not help. The answer is attributable to a concept familiar to every engineer reading this: measurement uncertainty. Except for the most narrowly defined questions, one examiner might give a script 64, and another 66. Neither examiner has made any mistakes; both marks are legitimate. We all know that.

In general, a script marked m is a sample from a population in the range m ± f, where f is the measure of the subject’s “fuzziness” – a measure that, unsurprisingly, varies by subject with Maths having a smaller value for , and History a larger value.

Ofqual’s current policies 

This fundamental fact is not recognised by Ofqual. Their policy for determining grades – a policy that is current and has been in place for years – is to map the mark m given to a script by the original examiner onto a pre-determined grade scale. And their policy for appeals is that if a script is re-marked m*, then the originally awarded grade is changed if m* corresponds to a grade different from that determined by the original mark m.

Ofqual policies therefore assume that the originally-given mark m and the re-mark m* are precise measurements. In fact, they are not. That’s the problem.

Your challenge

Your challenge is to identify as many alternatives as you can for one or both of these policies such that your solutions:

  1. recognise that the original mark m is not a precise measurement, but rather of the form m ± f, where the fuzziness f is a constant for each subject (and not dependent, for example, on the mark m, and which, for the purposes of this challenge, is assumed to be known), and
  2. result in assessments, as shown on candidates’ certificates, that have a high probability (approaching 100%) of being confirmed, not changed, as the result of a fair re-mark m*, thereby ensuring that the first-awarded assessment is reliable.

Genuinely, we want to hear your thoughts either in the comments on this page or in the thread on the Engineering Academics Network page on LinkedIn.

Click here for more details about the forthcoming webcasts in the EPC Recruitment and Admissions Forum Series and to book your place.

EPC Recruitment and Admissions Forum 2020 Series Speakers

Jon Adamson (Entry qualifications, 18/11)

Jon Adamson is Director of Post-16 Standards at Oakgrove School, Milton Keynes. Jon has 25 years of experience working in state schools. He has spent 20 of those years in the role of Head of Sixth Form in three very different schools in London and Milton Keynes. An English teacher at heart, Jon has also taught a range of other subjects including Classical Civilisations.

Oakgrove School has been praised for its excellent careers provision and has been well ahead of the game in meeting all Gatsby benchmarks. In recent years, Jon has been focusing on increasing the number of students progressing to competitive courses and universities, especially Oxbridge and medicine.


Prof Louise Archer (Fair access, 18/11)

Louise Archer is the Karl Mannheim Professor of Sociology of Education at UCL Institute of Education. Her research focuses on educational identities and inequalities, particularly in relation to gender, ethnicity and social class. She directs a number of large funded research studies focusing on understanding and addressing injustices in young people’s engagement with science/ STEM in both school and out-of-school settings, including the ASPIRES, Youth Equity + STEM, Primary Science Capital: A whole school approach and Making Spaces projects.


Dr Jude Brereton (Entry qualifications, 18/11)

Jude is a Senior Lecturer in Audio and Music Technology at the University of York with research interests in interactive acoustic environments for musical performance. Since 2017 she has been Undergraduate Admissions Tutor for the Department of Electronic Engineering, where she is responsible for recruiting and admitting students to a variety of programmes in Electronic Engineering and specialisms such as Audio and Music Technology Systems, Nanotechnology, Medical Engineering and Robotics. She is a strong advocate for gender equality, serving as a UK Athena SWAN panel member and chair. She is dedicated to promoting inclusive engineering, through innovative, creative approaches to teaching, which are grounded in interdisciplinary research and sit at the boundary between arts and technology. 


Prof Mike Bramhall (Student numbers, 02/12)

Mike is Emeritus Professor of Engineering Education at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), having previously been the Assistant Dean Academic Development for the faculty of Arts, Computing Engineering & Sciences until his retirement in 2017, after working there for 30 years. He now works as an independent Higher Education consultant. Mike has been on QAA teams for Subject Review, Higher Education Review, Quality Review Visits and Quality and Standards Review for a wide range of Universities, further education colleges and alternative providers. He is a Governor at Northern College for Adult Education, Barnsley, and chairs its Quality Committee. Mike is a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and is also an active member and on the Board of the UK Engineering Professors’ Council, being also a member of its Recruitment and Admissions sub-committee. He was Associate Director of the SHU Learner Autonomy CETL from 2005 to 2010 and has worked for the HEA as an Associate Director of the Materials Subject Centre from 2003 to 2012 at the University of Liverpool. Mike is a National Teaching Fellow and a Principal Fellow of the HEA. He played a key role as Project Manager in developing Sheffield Hallam’s Retention & Student Success Strategy, which was subsequently adopted by Brighton University.


Dr Steve Bullock (Entry qualifications, 18/11)

Dr Steve Bullock is Programme Director for Aerospace Engineering at the University of Bristol, and leads on Widening Participation across the Faculty of Engineering. Previously a physics teacher, he was on the founding team of a highly-successful central London academy, later moving into HE with a teaching focus on inclusion and transition, and research interests in aerial robotics for search and rescue and humanitarian applications via his work in the Bristol Flight Lab. He has consulted on wide-ranging outreach including Google’s Global Science Fair and Ben Ainsley Racing’s STEM Crew, and co-hosts ‘The Guardian’s favourite podcast’, The Cosmic Shed, covering science fact, science fiction, and everything in between.

Contact: steve.bullock@bristol.ac.uk; http://weird.engineer 


Lucy Collins (Student numbers, 02/12)

Lucy Collins is Director of Home Recruitment and Conversion, University of Bristol. Lucy graduated from the University of Bristol with a BSc in Sociology in 2000.  She then went on to gain an MSc in Sociology and Social Research in 2004. Lucy has always been interested in education and believes strongly in the transformative effect of higher education. Following two years working for the educational charity Common Purpose, running a citizenship programme for young people, Lucy returned to the University to take up the post of Schools and Colleges Liaison Officer in the newly created Widening Participation Office. In 2006 she was appointed as Head of Widening Participation and Undergraduate Recruitment. In 2015 Lucy became Head of UK Student Recruitment at the University of Bristol, a role encompassing the development and delivery of strategy for the recruitment of all home students at undergraduate and postgraduate level.  In July 2018 Lucy became the Director of Home Recruitment and Conversion. Lucy and the Home Recruitment Team developed the Bristol Scholar’s scheme in 2016, a new initiative designed attract high quality students from the city of Bristol whose potential is not reflected in their predicted A Level grades. Lucy has been a school governor for over 12 years.  She is currently Vice Chair on the Board of Venturers Trust, a multi-academy trust in Bristol, co-sponsored by the University and the Society of Merchant Venturers.


Dr Mark Corver (International students, 25/11)

Mark has worked on data in higher education for over 20 years. Most recently this has been with dataHE – a business dedicated to helping universities use data better –  which he set up with colleague Andrew Hargreaves two years ago. Prior to founding dataHE, Mark was Director of Analysis and Research at UCAS. Here he built a data science capability that innovated across research, data products, and digital marketing areas. Previously Mark has worked for HEFCE, OFFA and central Government, playing a leading role in development of many of the analytical structures supporting the sector. Mark has degrees in spatial statistics and chemistry and is an advocate of code-based data-led methods for successful outcomes in the higher education sector.


Peter Derrick (Student numbers, 02/12)

Peter joined UCAS is 2015, initially as Head of Service Delivery, subsequently taking on the Admissions Delivery portfolio, covering the full breath of UCAS’ Operational Delivery. He leads and manages the core service delivery to UCAS’s provider, student, and adviser customer groups. He is accountable for the admissions, results, collection, and data quality services, including digital learning and business change. He leads the delivery of the annual Confirmation and Clearing activity as well as working across the breath of UCAS’s change initiatives. Peter is a Biochemistry and Physiology graduate with experience broad range of roles related to applicant and student administration, including Head of Admissions at both the University of Southampton and Middlesex University.


Dr Inês Direito (International students, 25/11)

Inês Direito, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Engineering Education (CEE), University College London, UK. She is a psychologist working in engineering education research since 2007. Her main  focuses are on the development of transversal and professional skills; gender, diversity and inclusion; and, more broadly, how social and cognitive sciences can inform engineering education and practice. She is the Chair of SEFI’s Special Interest Group on Gender & Diversity, member of the UK and Ireland Engineering Education Research Network (UK&IE EERN) Steering committee, and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Gero Federkeil (International students, 25/11)

U-Multirank


Stella Fowler (Student numbers, 02/12)

Stella Fowler is the EPC Executive Policy and Research lead. She is responsible for all aspects of policy and research including projects; data analysis; report writing; member surveys and consultations; and events and communications. Stella has worked in HE analysis for over 20 years with experience at UCAS, on the Higher Education Strategic Planners Association (HESPA) Board and in senior university planning and research data management roles.


Anne Marie Graham (International students, 25/11)

Anne Marie Graham is Chief Executive of UKCISA. Anne Marie joined UKCISA in 2019 from the Association of Commonwealth Universities, where she was Director of Chevening, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s flagship global scholarship scheme.
Prior to that, Anne Marie has led on a range of educational programmes and projects promoting international mobility and intercultural exchange. At Universities UK International, she developed the first government-funded UK Strategy for Outward Mobility, and established the Go International programme to build capacity and influence institutional change in UK universities to increase the proportion of UK domiciled students with international experience. Before moving into the education sector, Anne Marie spent several years in the language services industry managing high profile accounts with multinational engineering and pharmaceutical companies. Anne Marie is a linguist, with a first degree in Modern Languages from Anglia Ruskin University and a postgraduate translation qualification from University of Westminster.


Josephine Hansom (Fair access, 02/12)

Josephine oversees all youth research and insight at the award-winning agency, YouthSight. Leading a team of specialist researchers, she helps clients grow by better understanding the needs of Millennials and Gen Z. During her nineteen years as a researcher Josephine has worked with many university clients as well as brands like the BBC, BMW, Facebook, Google, Tinder and Sport England. She is the mastermind behind the State of the Youth Nation – the most up-to-date youth tracker in the UK; keeping clients plugged into youth culture since 2015. She is a regular on the conference circuit, having spoken in Milan, Chicago, Boston and Vienna.

Twitter: @JosephineHansom / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephinehansom/


Dr Georgina Harris (International students, 25/11)

Georgina is Director of Engineering at The University of Salford. She joined the university after working at Manchester Metropolitan University for over five years where she held the post of Head of School of Engineering and Associate Dean. Georgina is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer with an Engineering Doctorate.  She holds two Master’s Degrees: one in Mechanical Engineering and the other in Business Administration. She is a passionate advocate for engineering with a firm belief that it can solve the world’s grand challenges and improve daily life for everyone. Georgina also feels that engineering has the potential to provide social mobility for our successful graduates.


Rachel Hewitt (Student numbers, 02/12)

Rachel joined HEPI in November 2018, as Director of Policy and Advocacy and has written about a wide variety of HE policy issues, including the financial stability of universities and the impact of focusing on graduate employment metrics. Prior to joining HEPI, Rachel held a number of roles at the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), focused on data policy and governance and gathering requirements for information that could be met from HESA data. Rachel also lead on the review of data on graduate destinations and designed and implemented the new Graduate Outcomes survey.


Dr Omar Khan (Fair access 09/12)

Dr Omar Khan is Director of the Centre for Transforming Access and Students Outcomes in Higher Education (TASO). Omar joined TASO from race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, where he had been Director since 2014. Prior to this, Omar was Head of Policy at the Runnymede Trust and led its financial inclusion programme.

Omar holds several advisory positions, including chair of Olmec, chair of the Ethnicity Strand Advisory Group to Understanding Society, chair of the advisory group of the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity at the University of Manchester, Commissioner on the Financial Inclusion Commission and a member of the 2021 REF and 2014 REF assessment. Omar was previously a Governor at the University of East London and a 2012 Clore Social Leadership Fellow.


Dr Steph Neave (Fair access, 09/12)

Stephanie Neave is the Head of Research at EngineeringUK, where she is responsible for developing and delivering the organisation’s research programme, including its State of Engineering reports; the Engineering Brand Monitor, a national survey of young people, teachers and parents on their attitudes toward engineering; and research initiatives to support the STEM community to improve educational outreach. Prior to EngineeringUK, she led research in various education policy organisations on behalf of bodies such as the European Commission, the Home Office, and HEFCE on topics ranging from the diversity of the scientific workforce to the BME degree attainment gap.


Rohit Ramesh (International students, 25/11)

Rohit Ramesh is Head of International Student Recruitment at the University of Liverpool, where he is responsible for providing strategic direction to the institution’s internationalisation objectives. In this role he manages a team that is tasked with devising and overseeing the implementation of the University’s strategy to increase the number of international students coming to study at Liverpool, through the University’s network of partners; exploring and bringing suitable opportunities to grow its overseas partnerships; and managing student numbers and relationships with governmental and commercial partners. Prior to this, he was in the Investment Banking sector, having worked for companies like Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. Rohit holds an MBA from the University of Liverpool and is a registered Member of the Chartered Management Institute.


Johnny Rich (Fair access 09/12)

As well as his Chief Executive role with the EPC, Johnny Rich is well known across the higher education sector as a high-profile commentator on policy issues as well as the chief executive of student advice and outreach organisation Push, as a consultant working in education and careers, and as an author. Before joining the EPC, Johnny has already worked on many issues of concern to our members. Over the past 25 years, he led Push’s research – such as on drop-out rates and student debt – which has had direct impacts on policy. Johnny’s thought leadership, such as his papers for a graduate levy and a national access fund (2018) and on employability (2015) for the Higher Education Policy Institute, have been influential throughout the sector. Policy issues are also a significant part of his consultancy work, along with communications. His clients have included the European Commission, HEFCE, U-Multirank, as well as many universities, recruiters and charities. He’s a regular speaker at conferences, awards and in schools. In 2013, his novel A Human Script was published.

Twitter @JohnnySRich


Dennis Sherwood (Entry qualifications, 18/11)

Dennis now runs his own consulting business, The Silver Bullet Machine Manufacturing Company Limited, working with clients in all sectors and all scales on creativity and innovation – including many academic science and engineering departments, and DTCs, under the EPSRC’s “Creativity@home” programme. And, following an assignment for Ofqual in 2013, using systems thinking to compile causal loop diagrams to map all the systems within which Ofqual operates, Dennis has been an active campaigner for the award of grades that are fully reliable and trustworthy. Earlier in his career, Dennis was an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs and a consulting partner in Deloitte, having read Natural Sciences (Physics Part II) at Clare College, Cambridge, followed by an MPhil (Molecular Biophysics) from Yale and a PhD (Biology) from the University of California at San Diego. Dennis has written many journal articles and blogs, and is also the author of 11 books on a variety of subjects – including thermodynamics!


Helen Thorne MBE (Entry qualifications, 18/11)

Helen has over 25 years of experience working with the HE sectors in the UK and the US, covering student recruitment, admissions, research and innovation.  She was most recently Director of External Relations for UCAS with responsibility for strategy, digital product management, marketing, PR and student exhibitions.  Helen serves as an independent governor for Northumbria University and two schools in Swindon. 


Thijs van Vugt (International students, 25/11)

Thijs van Vugt is the strategic power of the Analytics and Consulting Team at Studyportals. With 30 years of experience in international education, he brings to the table experience as an entrepreneur, consultant, trainer, author and board member. Some of his recent clients include University of London, University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, University of Nottingham, Glasgow Caledonian University, Karolinska Institute, Sciences Po, the European Commission Pearson, San Diego State University, Keypath and PwC. Thijs is the founder of the Expert Community Marketing & Recruitment of the EAIE. He was chair of M&R (2002-2008) and a member of EAIE’s Executive Board (2004-2008). In 2006 he published a book on The Impact of Tuition Fees on International Student Recruitment and in September 2009 was awarded the Bo Gregersen Award for Best Practice of the EAIE. Thijs holds a Master’s in International Economics from Tilburg University and post-graduate diplomas in Public Management (Tias Business School) and Customer Relationship Management (Beeckestijn Business School).


EPC Recruitment and Admissions Forum 2020 Series Posters

Click on the thumbnails below to view the posters.

UK engineering students’ maths entry qualifications: grades and non-progression

Tim Bullough, University of Liverpool

NMITE recruitment and selection

Costa Coleman, New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering

Experiential Capital of mature returners to Engineering Education

Martin Eason, University of Wolverhampton

Math workshop as a valuable vehicle to learning

Karin Ennser, Swansea University

In engineering, what changes would be needed to receive applications / make offers after level 3 results were known? And what might be the unintended consequences?

Stella Fowler, EPC

Guest Blog: To trust or not to trust?

Imagine the situation, you have worked tirelessly to make a discovery which is important, potentially revolutionary, or worked long days and nights and sacrificed everything in order to bring that life changing product to the market. You feel elated and hopeful of what the future holds only to find out that everything you have worked for is for naught as your partners have passed off all your work as their own. Or even worse the discoveries you have made are being used to increase oppression, or worse, and your reputation is damaged even though you had no knowledge of the use. The following case study shows the risks:

A university signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on research into facial recognition technology with an overseas university. As part of the proposal, the overseas university committed to providing significant funding and to sponsor two research fellows. The university conducted in-depth due diligence, including financial assurance and checking compliance with export control legislation. A year into the research, a newspaper published an exposé which highlighted well-publicised details of the overseas university’s work with the military and police of their country to support surveillance and repression of dissents to the political leadership.

I wish I could say these were one off incidents but worryingly, this is happening a lot more than is realised. A quick search online reveals stories of IP theft from universities or AI being used to increase mass surveillance.  However, these risks can be mitigated and CPNI and NCSC are here to help.

The CPNI (the national technical authority for physical and personnel security) have now collaborated with the NCSC (the national technical authority for cyber security) to bring you Trusted Research to support academics to manage the risks to international research collaboration. This guidance

  • Outlines the potential risks to UK research and innovation
  • Helps researchers, UK universities and industry partners to have confidence in international collaboration and make informed decisions around those potential risks
  • Explains how to protect research and staff from potential theft, misuse or exploitation

The website also includes a simple checklist to help identify potential risks and also has guidance for senior leaders.

We recognise international collaboration is vital, we also realise that collaborating with the wrong people could end up costing everything, rather than paying dividends.

In an increasingly uncertain world, it is safer to know who you are doing business with.

Guest Blog: Engineering Council on Revised Standards

By Catherine Elliott, Education and Skills Manager at the Engineering Council

The fourth edition of Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (AHEP) has been published, ahead of the 2020-2021 academic year. There will be a transition period, from publication until the start of the 2023 academic year, during which providers can request accreditation against the old or new learning outcomes.  

Accreditation is the process of reviewing an engineering degree programme to judge whether or not it meets the defined standards set by the Engineering Council. A degree may be accredited by one or more of the engineering institutions licensed to do so, particularly where it spans several engineering disciplines. Accredited engineering degrees offer students, their parents and advisors, and employers an important mark of assurance that the programme meets the high standards set by the engineering profession.

Alongside the fourth edition of AHEP, we have published:

  • a summary of key changes to the document
  • a comparison of the learning outcomes in this fourth edition to the previous edition of AHEP, ‘Mapping Learning Outcomes AHEP4 against AHEP3’
  • a table of ‘Defining characteristics and learning outcomes’, which sets out the characteristics that define accredited programmes and the generic learning outcomes

all of which are available at: https://www.engc.org.uk/ahep4th

Revisions to AHEP aim to encourage development of innovative programmes and pedagogy, as well as making the importance of industry involvement in programme design and delivery clear. The updated document also has a sharper focus on inclusive design and innovation, and the coverage of areas such as sustainability and ethics.

Approval and Accreditation of Qualifications and Apprenticeships (AAQA) is the new Engineering Council Standard against which apprenticeships (including Degree Apprenticeships and Graduate Apprenticeships) and non-degree qualifications can be recognised.   AAQA supports the formal recognition of competence, as well as knowledge and understanding, developed through non-degree qualifications and apprenticeships. For higher level programmes this refers to the same defining characteristics and generic learning outcomes as degree accreditation.

More information on and links to all the Engineering Council’s revised Standards is available in our press release.

The Engineering Council would like to thank the professional engineering community for its valuable contribution to this process, including providing consultation responses and nominating volunteers for the relevant Working Groups. This revision of our Standards would not have been possible without the expert perspectives offered by higher education providers, the professional engineering institutions and the community as a whole.

Emerging Stronger: Lasting Impact from Crisis Innovation – a new publication

At the start of 2020, no-one could have known what major changes lay just three months ahead for HE. Yet, here we are living through a pandemic, and in the midst of one of the most significant, challenging, and disruptive periods imaginable.

As COVID-19 hit, we all saw and delivered innovation, change, and resilience in colleagues and students of unprecedented scope, on an unprecedented scale, and at unprecedented speed. What was striking about these changes was the apparent loss of perceived barriers that had previously hindered innovation. COVID-19 provided a new freedom for us all to try new ideas and do things differently, and a catalyst for everyone to do so: the status quo no longer existed to be maintained.

An obvious question quickly arose: what value might there be in the longer term retention of some of these new approaches, beyond the immediate crisis? Some benefits seemed immediately apparent – for example, open-book assessment prompted a shift to more authentic questions of application rather than simple recall of knowledge; digital delivery of lectures enabled students to choose the pace and place of their learning with greater flexibility; and students’ employability was enhanced through developing skills in collaboration across space and time. There were, of course, challenges, too: How do we develop practical skills in students at a distance? How can students gain workplace experience in the absence of internships? How do we maintain academic standards in remote assessments?

To explore these questions, we launched a series of webinars – Engineering Education: Lasting Impact from Crisis Innovation – through our Pioneering Programmes and Practice in Engineering Education Advance HE Connect network. Across six weeks, we brought together over 250 educators and practitioners to share ideas and discover how the sector was responding. We explored assessment; collaboration and professional skills; remote laboratory work and practical skill development; employability; and student partnership in learning design. In the sixth week, eight invited contributions from across the sector showcased emerging good practice.

We were encouraged to see so many positive innovations, and the creativity of our community in keeping the show on the road, with determination to deliver positive learning outcomes for students. Emerging Stronger: Lasting Impact from Crisis Innovation  – published today by the EPC – celebrates this work, sharing the thinking and discussion that we explored together. It adds further examples of emerging good practice in case studies from colleagues across the sector, and students’ perspectives on the changes to their learning experience.

We hope that Emerging Stronger will provide inspiration, guidance – indeed, reassurance – to colleagues as we now face the challenge, over summer 2020, of planning for the start of the new academic year with online or blended approaches to learning and teaching. We encourage you to capture your own stories of innovation, and to reflect on the benefits and challenges that arise. The EPC has created a new set of webpages to share your innovations with the wider community, and we encourage you to tell us what you’ve been doing, using this form.


Engineering admissions: share your insights and help us make engineering’s voice heard in the national admissions debate.

EPC response to the Office for Students (OfS) consultation on the higher education admissions system in England.

In response to both the pending consultation and the uncertainty around this year’s university admissions the EPC is conducting a one-off admissions survey (in addition to our annual temperature check of the health of HE engineering enrolments which will take a light touch this Autumn). Please complete the survey here. You can view all questions here before you begin.

Background

Earlier this year, the OfS launched a review of the current English higher education admissions system, with an emphasis on the interests of undergraduate applicants. The scope included the effectiveness of the current admissions system as well as reform.

The consultation was paused – in response to the coronavirus outbreak – before it really got going, but not before it was heavily criticised for overstepping the mark when it comes to institutional autonomy and the right of individual providers “to determine the criteria for the admission of students and apply those criteria in particular cases” (as per the Higher Education and Research Act).

Meanwhile, despite the OfS not having the power – at that point at least – to require changes to individual institutions’ admissions processes, and the coronavirus pause in the admissions consultation, ministers and the OfS waded in to “protect” the integrity and stability of the English higher education sector by imposing an unconditional offers moratorium and proposing the extension of OfS’s regulatory powers regarding admissions. A new temporary condition on sector stability and integrity was adopted by OfS on 3rd July 2020 but the scope of the condition was narrowed as a result of EPC and others’ lobbying, with only unconditional offers and marketing activity in final scope. The EPC’s concern that OfS would be able to take enforcement action in relation to conduct that predated the consultation was heard, and this additional power conceded.

At the same time, other reform pressures are rife and PQA is undoubtedly back on the agenda.

EPC Admissions Survey

With the triple whammy of curbed international student imports, squeezed budgets and student number controls weighing down on HE engineering portfolios, we know that the HE engineering sector needs to know more…urgently. An engineering admissions profile will give our members an insight into how our sector manages admissions, the benefit of understanding what our peers are doing, and an opportunity to share best practice. The EPC will also play a critical role in carefully evidencing HE engineering’s collective admissions behaviour in order to inform future policy responses in the interests of engineering.

Please be assured, there are no trick questions and we won’t share your information or publish any findings which might identify your university.

There are 9 sections to this survey:

1. About your engineering courses

  1. About your recruitment and admissions response to Covid-19
  2. About your response to government policy resulting from Covid-19
  3. About your admissions infrastructure
  4. About your undergraduate engineering admissions processes
  5. About your wider engineering admissions processes
  6. Evaluating your admissions processes
  7. The future of admissions
  8. Get involved

You’ll need to set aside about half an hour to complete the survey in full but you can skip any questions you don’t want to answer. You can also save your partially completed survey to come back to if you are short of time in a single sitting. Please complete whole sections in a sitting where possible. They survey is easiest to complete on a computer or tablet, but can be navigated on a phone if necessary. You can view all questions here before you begin. Please complete the survey here.

Principles of the paused OfS admissions consultation

Notwithstanding that no revised deadline for the OfS admissions consultation has yet been published and, in any event, the impact of Covid-19 may have an urgent and lasting effect on university admissions anyway, a summary of the original admissions review is provided below.

The consultation starts with the overarching principle that “all students, whatever their background, are able to choose between and select courses and providers matched to their needs, achievements and potential” plus a further set of proposed principles for a reliable, fair and inclusive admissions system (revised from the 2004 Schwartz review).

  • Applicants, their advisers and universities and colleges should find that the admissions system is transparent and that they have access to full information, presented in a way that enables applicants to make effective choices.
  • Applicants should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their achievement and potential with clear evidence. They should know how this evidence will be used by universities and colleges to select students.
  • Applicants should be assessed using methods that are reliable, fair and inclusive.
  • Applicants, their advisers and universities and colleges should experience a system that is professional in every respect and underpinned by appropriate structures and processes.
  • The public should have confidence in the admissions system.

Perceived admissions issues

Beyond these principles, there are a total of ten issues in scope:

  1. Advertised entry requirements versus actual entry requirements
  2. The use and accuracy of predicted grades in undergraduate admissions
  3. The use of assessment methods including personal statements and references, auditions, portfolio, admission tests, and interviews
  4. The role of contextual offers and contextual admissions
  5. The use of unconditional offers and “attainment offers”
  6. The use of offer incentives, inducements, and false marketing claims
  7. Applications which are made later in the admissions cycle, including the use of the UCAS Clearing system
  8. The transparency of the admissions process
  9. Applicants’ experience of the admissions system processes
  10. Stakeholder’ perceptions of the extent to which the English higher education admissions system is fair and effective.

The last three are predominantly aimed at applicants but within these they pick up on the following institutional activities:

  • The use of integrated foundation years
  • The use of admissions processes other than UCAS
  • The use of admissions processes where more than one university, college, or other organisation is involved, such as under a partnership arrangement or for an apprenticeship
  • The use of recruitment agents to recruit UK, EU and international students onto higher education courses

Somewhat off topic, the OfS is also seeking views on the use of higher education provider ‘league tables’.

Future options

OfS consultation includes three possible future admissions models:

Existing system with reforms

Possible reforms here include more transparency on entry requirements, getting rid of personal statements and/or references, and limiting the use of unconditional offers and incentives. Slightly more sweeping reforms, including getting shot of predicted grades entirely, and reforming clearing, are also mooted.

Post-qualification offers

Applying to full-time undergraduate admissions, this would be a halfway house between what we have currently – seeing applicants apply before their A levels but receiving offers after results are known. This would likely see some changes to dates for results or the start of the academic year for first years and would mean the end of conditional offers.

Post-qualification admissions

This would see students applying to full time undergraduate courses after their A level results are known, with a speedy response from providers seeing offers made and accepted before the (delayed) start of the academic year. Conditional offers would again disappear.

Although postgraduate and other direct entry applicants are largely ignored through much of the consultation, we are told that they are in scope and asked to consider whether aspects of a PQA might apply across the wider admissions system.

Does accreditation help or hinder innovation?

In advance of the EPC’s forthcoming live webcast, one of the panellists, Prof Sean Wellington, considers whether the requirements of accreditation help foster new approaches to engineering higher education.


Academic accreditation of engineering degrees is a well-established feature of UK higher education. It is seen as a valuable ‘kite mark’ for degree providers operating in a marketized higher education system and confers some benefits for graduates who wish to seek professional registration. However academic accreditation has both costs and benefits. 

Prof Sean Wellington
Professor Sean Wellington FIET PFHEA is Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at Middlesex University. A past Chair of the IET Academic Accreditation Committee, Sean has a particular interest in engineering education and the professional formation of Engineers. He chaired the Engineering Council Working Group that developed AHEP Edition 4 and is a member of the Accreditation Review Working Group.

Some costs are obvious, such as the staff time required to prepare for an accreditation visit and possibly a fee payable to the Professional Engineering Institution (PEI). The degree provider (the university) also has to abide by the ‘rules of the game’. This is where things can get complicated because there are several sets of rules in play.

The Engineering Council handbook for academic accreditation is a permissive document that defines output standards for the various types of accredited degree through learning outcomes, but it does not define how the learning outcomes are taught or assessed. The standard, Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (AHEP), also outlines the requirements and process for academic accreditation.

Additionally, there are the documented policies and procedures of the different PEIs licensed by the Engineering Council to accredit degree programmes, and finally the unwritten custom and practice of the PEI and the interpretation and application of the written and unwritten ‘rules’ by a particular accreditation visit panel.

PEIs are encouraged not to define rules beyond the AHEP standard. However, many chose to do so: for example, requiring major group or individual projects, perhaps with a specified credit weighting, specific curriculum content or the use of formal written examinations. The Engineering Council has licensed some 35 PEIs to accredit degree programmes and many higher education providers are working with several PEIs who may have different (and even antagonistic) approaches. These differences are particularly noticeable where units concerned with distinct engineering specialisms have been integrated into larger multidisciplinary engineering schools or departments.

Universities, when required to navigate different PEI requirements, may be forgiven for taking a defensive approach. Visit panels represent another unknown since the outcome of the engagement is heavily dependent on the individual and collective judgement of the panel members. These panel members, normally unpaid volunteers, do vitally important work, however relatively few of the PEIs that accredit degree programmes operate at the scale necessary to support a dedicated staff team for academic accreditation and the training and support for volunteers is somewhat variable. Panel members may also lack familiarity with new approaches to teaching, learning and assessment.

There is a long tradition of scholarship and innovation in engineering higher education so change is possible. For accreditation to be conferred, a degree provider must convince the PEI that their approach is equivalent to established practice and PEIs have different ‘red lines’ that limit what can be achieved. This has the potential to inhibit new thinking, however professional accreditation can also be used as a convenient defence mechanism by those unwilling or reluctant to embrace change.

It should also be possible to use the accreditation process to share innovative practice, particularly where this can help address issues of general concern to the sector. Many PEIs identify and record good practice in their accreditation visit reports, however such practice is not widely shared or celebrated. A mechanism to share innovative practice might involve AdvanceHE and connect with existing awards such as CATE and NTF.

The Engineering Council has responded to concerns expressed by higher education providers and sector bodies – including the EPC – by initiating a review of accreditation. I believe we need to retain the strengths of the current system but reduce unnecessary and unhelpful differences in approach. There are real and perceived barriers to innovation, however AHEP Edition 4, to be launched in September 2020, is quite clear –

Higher Education providers are encouraged to develop innovative degree programmes in response to industry needs and the Engineering Council does not favour any particular approach to teaching, learning or assessment. The key consideration is that all graduates from an accredited degree programme must meet all of the prescribed learning outcomes. Assessment should be designed to minimise opportunities for students to commit academic misconduct, including plagiarism, self-plagiarism and contract cheating.

We must not lose our willingness to innovate. For example, our recent experiences of remote teaching and assessment forced by the COVID-19 crisis can shape long-term changes to our teaching, learning and assessment practice that will benefit students. To this end, we should work with Engineering Council and PEIs to support the current accreditation review and ensure unnecessary barriers to innovation are removed.


The live webcast ‘Accreditation & Innovation’ will be held at 2pm on 14th July 2020. Registration is free to EPC members, but booking is essential. This webcast is part of the New Approaches to Engineering Higher Education series, held in partnership with the IET. Recordings from the webcast series are available on the recent events page.

Survey for European engineering students in the UK

This is the student survey, for the staff survey, please click here.

Are you a non-UK European citizen? And an engineering STUDENT in a UK Higher Education Institution?

We want to hear from you. This survey is part of an EPC / UCL Engineering Education project funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, looking at the experiences and expectations of European nationals currently studying engineering in the United Kingdom.

Last year we interviewed European engineering students, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, who shared a variety of experiences, expectations and concerns about their future in the UK. When the interviews were run, the General Election (on the 12th December 2019) had not occurred. Since then, the UK has left the EU and is currently in a transition period until the end of 2020.

It would be enormously helpful to understand why you have chosen the UK to study engineering; what your experiences have been so far; and what are your future plans and expectations. We want to understand how UK universities can support your capacity to learn and succeed in your engineering studies and future career.

Link to the survey: https://is.gd/EUengineeringstudent

We hope that this survey is relevant to you, but we understand that you are frequently asked to complete online surveys. We would like to give you a £5 gift voucher for your time completing this survey. The survey is organized in 4 sections and it should take about 20 minutes to complete. If you wish to receive this voucher, please provide your student email (your university email address) at the end of the survey. The voucher will be sent by email no later than September.

All the information you provide will be kept anonymous and you will not be able to be identified from your responses. You can find more details in the Participant Information Sheet, which explains how we will analyse and store your data. The submission of your responses implies consent to participate in the research.

Although COVID-19 has been impacting the whole society in unprecedented ways, when completing the survey please focus on the impact of UK’s departure of the EU on your experiences and future plans.

Your voice matters! Thank you for participating in this critical research.

Dr Inês Direito, UCL Centre for Engineering Education

Contact: i.direito@ucl.ac.uk