!New! DATA BLOG: EPC engineering enrolments survey results

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EPC Engineering Enrolments Survey

Firstly, a huge thank you for your contributions which the Recruitment and Admissions Forum confirmed are highly valued by our members. You told us that the data is used in many ways, from enabling individual members and departments to understand their experience relative to the sector and their comparators, to evidence-based decision making on new courses to offer. The survey gives us all an early temperature check of the health of HE undergraduate and postgraduate engineering enrolments; our survey is the only place you can gain this insight, many months before enrolment data for 2018/19 is published by HESA.

This year we saw improved member engagement and data quality, plus an increased response rate from a greater number of universities resulting in better overall coverage across more discrete disciplines. We will continue to work to make your involvement as easy as possible.

Stable enrolments, changing distribution

  • The EU share of the undergraduate market contracted for non-Russell Group universities; while the Home share expanded.
  • Postgraduate courses saw a higher proportion of overseas enrolments; especially in the Russell Group which reported greatest volatility.
  • At undergraduate level, Non-Russell Group universities dominated the home market.
  • London universities reported a decline in engineering enrolments.
  • Mechanical engineering remains the sector headliner, but fares poorly when it comes to attracting women.
  • The most notable growth was reported in Biomedical engineering, with Product design, General engineering and Other also showing clear growth overall.
  • The most notable decline was in Mineral, metallurgy and materials engineering.
  • Software engineering may also be on the up, but for undergraduates was proportionally the singularly most EU dependent discipline.
  • A three-fold growth was reported in enrolments on degree apprenticeships. But where are the part-time enrolments?

Summary findings

Mechanical engineering remains the sector superstar, dominating our sample population (and official data shows undergraduate numbers have doubled in a decade); members also reported that the applicant field in this area remains strong.

Software engineering features more prominently in our survey than ever before. But interim UCAS undergraduate data doesn’t suggest an engineering surge, so if software engineering is really taking off, it may be at the expense of other disciplines. What’s more, at undergraduate level, software engineering is proportionally the singularly most EU dependent discipline in our sample (charts 1 and 2).

Both disciplines fared poorly when it comes to attracting women into engineering, between them they had the worse female:male ratios in our sample, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Nor does the EU student sample support the cause, which is surprising given Europe’s track record in this space. But recruiting from further afield (other overseas) does, particularly if you’re in the Russell Group…and enrolling postgraduates! Biomedical engineering continues to have the best female:male ratio in our sample.

This year we celebrated huge gains in the coverage of our female:male data, which was almost complete for home undergraduate enrolments (chart 3).

The EU share of the undergraduate market has contracted in our survey for non-Russell Group universities, while the Home share has expanded. Could this be an early sign to the new direction as Brexit looms near?

Postgraduate engineering courses saw a much higher proportion of overseas enrolments, especially within the Russell Group. At undergraduate level, Non-Russell Group universities dominated the home market (chart 4).

There are huge regional variations, with the North and London attracting the most enrolments from overseas, particularly at postgraduate level (chart 5).

Our survey showed part-time undergraduate enrolments to be pitiful in numbers, mostly seen in Civil engineering. At postgraduate level, part-time study was far more common, with Civil engineering again leading the way.

Degree apprenticeships

We received submissions for 3.5 x more degree apprenticeship enrolments than last year (572), and these were returned by one quarter of our respondents (approximately half of these were in addition to the enrolment figures submitted elsewhere). Degree apprenticeship enrolments were reported in all disciplines excepting Biomedical engineering, Chemical, process and energy engineering and Product design. They were dominated by Mechanical, aero and production engineering and Civil engineering. Just 3% of these were at postgraduate level (chart 6).

Undergraduate enrolments compared with 2017-18

The most notable growth was reported in Biomedical engineering, with Product design, General engineering and Other also showing clear growth overall. The most notable decline was in Mineral, metallurgy and materials engineering. Among the other disciplines, there were mixed fortunes.

Following an apparent hit last year, Chemical, process and energy engineering witnessed greater growth than decline this year. Members report that attracting core Electronic and Electrical Engineering students continues to be challenging.

The levels of stability (the gaps between the lower and higher bars) were relatively uniform in the data, suggesting relative stability in the engineering undergraduate sector (chart 7).

At postgraduate level, growth outweighed decline across all disciplines except Civil engineering and Software engineering. The stand-out pattern is, similarly, the consistency of those reporting their enrolments to be about the same (chart 8).

Enrolments at universities across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland collectively showed a notable increase overall, together with those in the South and the North. At undergraduate level, universities in the Central region also showed much greater growth than decline. Across the board, universities based in London fared worse with both undergraduate and postgraduate enrolments reported as being most in decline relative to their growth (chart 9).

While non-Russell Group universities reported relatively stable enrolments overall, the Russell Group witnessed greater volatility, showing growth overall, most convincingly at postgraduate level (chart 10).

Reflections

Notwithstanding Brexit, we also know that some (non-EU) overseas markets are struggling. And, of course, we know that recruitment and selection are made in the context of institutional strategies and targets. Share your own reflections below…

In addition to the slides published here, a headlines slide deck is available to download for all EPC members.

International Baccalaureate: the perfect preparation for engineers?

This blog has been written for the EPC by Henry Coverdale, Director of Post 16 Education at King Edward’s School in Birmingham. Henry was the author of one of the posters presented at the EPC Recruitment & Admissions Forum this month. 

“Our narrow education system, which encourages early specialisation, is no longer fit for purpose in an increasingly interdisciplinary world.”
Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, Nobel Laureate and President of the Royal Society.

With offers as they currently stand, International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma candidates are less likely to enrol on STEM courses at university the students with other qualifications (HESA).

This is a tragedy on three fronts: firstly, Engineering desperately needs more undergraduates with the sort of skills that the IB provides. The fact that every IB graduate has studied Maths and a Science, while also tackling humanities, literature and a foreign language, makes them ideal for the ethically difficult and creative problems that will face society in the future.

Secondly, IB graduates do fantastically well at university on STEM courses. They are more likely to be awarded a ‘good degree’ than an A level contemporary and, critically for STEM, they are also twice as likely to embark on further study after the completion of their first degree (HESA).

Finally, IB graduates are disproportionately women, if engineering departments were to actively seek out IB candidates it would be a pathway to some superbly creative and scientifically minded young women in schools, which would help to develop diversity in Engineering.

If Engineering departments were to be proactive in recruiting IB students, it would encourage more schools to take the plunge and offer this brilliant qualification, which would improve the calibre of British engineering students no end.

“More schools must adopt the IB – students shouldn’t be forced to narrow their options so early”
– Naomi Climer, President of the Institution for Engineering and Technology

The first, and arguably most important, place to start is reexamining the maths requirements for entry, especially now that the IB maths course is changing to create ‘applications’ courses that should be of particular benefit to engineers and economists. The IB Higher Level Maths course is internationally regarded – up there with Singapore Maths school-leaver qualifications – and it is the one subject where the UCAS points equivalent to A level Maths really doesn’t stack up. Research suggests that Higher Level Maths grade 6 is at an A* grade, with a 4 being approximate to an A at A level. As such, universities examining their Maths requirements could be an excellent start to encouraging more IB students to follow engineering careers. Perhaps, even (following Warwick University’s lead) either Maths or Physics at Higher Level is sufficient, given the other skills IB students arrive with.

If the UK is to tackle its uncertain future from a position of strength, with a workforce able to tackle problem solving in a creative and interdisciplinary way, it is imperative that more pupils are able and encouraged to take the IB diploma at 16. University engineering departments demonstrating they value the depth and breadth of the diploma would be a great step in the right direction. As David Willetts, former Minister for Universities and Science, has pointed out, universities are uniquely placed to influence Sixth Form curriculum decision-making.


This blog reflects the views of the author. The EPC does not have a stated position. To add your view to the debate, please comment below.

DATA BLOG: New year, new data? Can aging stats really help today’s strategies?

Last week, UCAS completed its suite of 2017 data when it published detailed stats for last autumn’s undergraduate admissions to the UK’s largest universities and colleges. But while the accepted applicant data reaches us only four or five months after the event, the applications were generally made around seven months earlier. So, as we enter the crucial months of the 2018 recruitment cycle, only now is UCAS data giving us a snapshot of what happened up to a year ago.

Then we have HESA data. The first release of HESA’s official student enrolment data for 2016/2017 also came this January. Now we have ‘new’ data relating to the previous year’s UCAS cohort; that is, those enrolling at our universities in Autumn 2016.

But while these figures may seem hopelessly out of date, the trends behind the numbers are still highly relevant to our work in the coming months. (And trust me, I know from experience how much work goes into collecting and collating both sets of outputs!)

Over the coming weeks I’ll be updating the HESA student data on the EPC website and sharing some of my favourite engineering soundbites with you.

For example, did you know that one-in-three Engineering and technology students in 2016/2017 were international (32.5%) with one-in-four coming from outside the EU (24.9%)? HESA has published an introduction to their student (and staff) data on their website highlighting an increase in the number of students in higher education, a decline in part-time students, and over a quarter of first degree graduates gaining a first.

And a reminder of the UCAS engineering trends for last year…

  • Most subject groups had a reduction in applications, with applications to Engineering holding their own of sorts by decreasing by just 1.6% in 2017.
  • Relatively speaking, it was a good year to be an Engineering applicant, as acceptances to Engineering fell by a relatively smaller 0.6%,
  • Overall, the odds of successfully applying to university are at their highest level for nine years.
  • Between 2008 and 2017, the proportional change in acceptances to Engineering makes for healthy reading.
  • Any surprises that nearly 5 men were accepted for every woman in Engineering (4.9:1)?

UCAS also publish data reports plus downloads on their website.

EPC Recruitment and Admissions Forum 2017

This year’s Engineering Professors’ Council Recruitment and Admissions Forum will be held on 15th November at Manchester Metropolitan University. We are delighted to announce not one, but two not-to-be-missed keynote speakers this year.

Mary Curnock Cook OBE stood down from her post as CEO of UCAS earlier this year and has immediately adopted a raft of other high-profile roles including Chair of The Access Project, Chelsea and Kensington College and  Swindon Academy, a Trustee of both the Open University and the National Star Foundation, and Strategic Adviser to Buckingham University. Her views on opportunity and entry qualifications are highly sought after and always challenging. Unshackled from her UCAS role, she has promised to be provocative. Prof Les Ebdon CBE is the Director of the Office of Fair Access in HE, the watchdog for equity in admissions. A tireless champion of wider participation, Les has campaigned hard for evidence-based access strategies and has transformed the opportunities for under-represented groups to access higher education. As former Vice-Chancellor of Bedfordshire University and a chemist by training, he is uniquely qualified to provide an insight into STEM recruitment and access.

 

Book your place now.

 

Other highlights include:

  • Findings from the Engineering Enrolments Survey – first glimpse data for 2017 entries into engineering HE across the country
  • Workshop on entry requirements
  • Workshop on under-represented groups in engineering 
  • Degree apprenticeships for success: policy and practice for universities, employers, government and other stakeholders. 

The cost for the day is £99 per ticket for EPC members, and £125 for non members. An invoice with payment methods will be issued once your booking is confirmed.

Who should attend?

  • Heads of Department
  • Admissions Tutors (both postgraduate and undergraduate)
  • Staff working in university recruitment offices
  • Staff working in university outreach functions

You can have a look on the RA Forum programme 2017 and book your place at the RA Forum here.

GEDC Airbus Diversity Award 2016

Airbus diversity awards

The Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) Airbus Diversity Award is sponsored by Airbus and aims to encourage and acknowledge work that inspires students of all profiles and backgrounds to study and succeed in engineering.

The closing date for applications is 30th June 2016

 

 

You can download the application form and brief for candidates here.

For questions, please contact info@gedcairbusdiversityaward.com

EPC December newsletter now available…

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Ingenious resilience: messages for a new Government

Ingenious resilienceEngineering matters to the UK economy, on both a regional and national level, and the profession is vital to maintaining the UK’s position in the world.  It drives innovation, regional growth and is leading in tackling the “grand challenges” that face society more generally.  The c.90 engineering faculties in universities across the UK are playing lead roles in educating the engineers of the future and working with businesses of all sizes, and in doing so, ensuring enduring economic resilience through their regional spread and provision of talent and cutting edge research to innovative firms.

In this briefing, from the Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange (CUSPE) and the Engineering Professors’ Council, we call for a long term, consistent approach to policy and funding, particularly around early educational engagement and strong and effective university collaboration and provide some case-study examples of some great initiatives led by universities from across the sector.

 

  • Early educational engagement: We need more engineers.  To address this, engagement must begin at primary school and university engineering departments are playing their part to build from the foundations set by schools.
  • Strong university-industry collaboration: The UK’s historical record of partnerships between higher education and industry in engineering is strong, but more needs to be done to include mid-sized innovators.

Download the briefing (pdf)

If you are a university member and wish to download the amendable briefing, you may do so here.  Or please contact us.

 

Perkins Review One Year On Report launched at Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 2104

Erik Bonino, Chair of Shell, launches Tomorrow's Engineers Week 2014An impressive group gathered at Shell UK’s London headquarters this morning (3rd November, 2014) to launch Tomorrow’s Engineers week 2014.  Erik Bonino, Chairman of Shell UK (pictured here) and Vince Cable the Business Secretary spoke passionately about the need to feed the pipeline of engineers to ensure we have sufficient to meet industry’s needs. They endorsed warmly the Review of Engineering Skills led by Professor John Perkins, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (also pictured here), who also attended to launch his “One Year On” report which has brought together an array of partners – professional engineering institutions, universities, schools, FE colleges and businesses – to address the need at every level from schools to postgraduate specialist skills.

The Engineering Professors’ Council leads the work, on behalf of Education for Engineering, on postgraduate specialist skills.

Professor Perkins’ progress report is available from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and a fuller account of the progress of the Perkins Task and Finish Groups is available from Education for Engineering.

 

 

 

 

2014/15 undergraduate applications to engineering up 10.4%

14-07 applications position as at June 2014The UCAS data released on 11 July, 2014 shows the number of undergraduate applications to UK universities for 2014/15 entry received by the June deadline were up 4.1% compared with the same point in 2013/14.  Applications received from now on will be dealt with in the clearing system.  But it’s even better news for engineering with applications up 10.4% – one of the three biggest percentage increases (after Technologies at 12.8% and Computer Science at 12.1%) – compared with 2013/14 and 17.1% compared with 2012/13.  Applications from UK and EU students were particularly strong.

The proportion of engineering applications as a percentage of all applications is on the increase too.  In 2010/11, engineering accounted for 5% of all applications – for 2014/15 it’s 5.7%.

EPC members can click on the chart to view the underlying data – analysed for UK, EU and non EU applicants.  Non members may read the UCAS briefing at this link.