A focus on…Campaigns

Many of our initiatives combine all of our workstreams, informing and supporting our members while also providing a springboard for networking events and guiding our representations to decision makers on behalf of our members. Click on each of the tabs below to see some of our campaign highlights:

Engineering EthicsSustainabilityEmerging strongerEnrolments survey

The ability to tell right from wrong, and better from worse, is as vital to an engineer as maths or design skills, yet many UK higher education institutions fall short in effectively developing these abilities in future engineering professionals.

As part of the profession’s on-going work to embed ethical practice into the culture of engineering, the EPC, with support from the Royal Academy of Engineering, has created the Engineering Ethics Toolkit: a resource that addresses the issue that relatively few university engineering courses explicitly embed ethics teaching throughout the curriculum.   

The Engineering Ethics Toolkit aims to engage educators, and enable them to introduce ethics into the education and training of every engineer, allowing the UK to position itself as a leader in promoting engineering as a force to improve the world for people and the planet.  

As well as offering advice to educators who want to teach ethics but are not sure where to begin, the Toolkit features ready-to-use classroom resources that are rooted in educational best practice and align with the Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (AHEP) criteria, which are the conditions for courses to receive professional accreditation.   

These case studies and other teaching materials highlight current and emerging real-world issues and can be used and adapted by anyone. The latest additions to the Engineering Ethics Toolkit include the interactive Ethics Explorer, which helps educators understand, plan for and implement ethics learning, and 30 new academic guidance articles, case studies and comprehensive classroom activities created and developed by academic and industry professionals.  

In addition to the Toolkit, we have recently launched Ethics Ambassadors – a new community of practice aimed at championing the embedding of ethics within engineering.

We continue to develop our Engineering Ethics campaign with further resources for the Toolkit, such as an Educators’ Pack, a new search tool, and further core content, as well as incentivising educators to embed ethics into engineering with a competition and awards.

We are excited to inform you that we are starting work on a Sustainability Toolkit, to be launched around the beginning of 2024. We are grateful to receive support and funding from Siemens and The Royal Academy of Engineering on this project.

There is an urgent need to increase sustainability awareness and skills. This is especially important for Engineering education so that all new graduates are motivated and equipped to tackle the serious sustainability challenges facing the environment and society.

To achieve this the Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC) is developing a toolkit for UK Engineering academics to ensure that sustainability is essential to and fully integrated within the learning of Engineering students. The toolkit will be open source and in time it will be connected with similar projects to create a global resource for Engineering educators.

While many excellent resources explain the sustainability knowledge, skills, and mindsets essential for 21st-century engineers, very few resources exist that support engineering educators to integrate these into their teaching in a comprehensive and effective way.

The aim of this project is to develop and curate a toolkit of resources that help academics explicitly embed sustainability in their day-to-day practice of engineering teaching, and to help make sustainability integral to rather than tangential to engineering learning.

Work has already begun and we are making progress with guidance from our Sustainability Toolkit Steering Group. The steering group is composed of academic, industry, and advocacy leaders who are passionate about sustainability and it will help guide the development of outputs such as those created for the EPC’s Engineering Ethics Toolkit. It will work alongside our project partners, including the Royal Academy of Engineering, Siemens, and the Lemelson Foundation which has supported work on a similar initiative in the US. The project will run from February through December 2023.

Learn how you can get involved here.

To help colleagues reflect on what we have learned about learning under lockdown and how to use the experience of trying to deliver high-quality engineering degree programmes to strengthen our teaching in future, the EPC bought you a new publication this year.  Emerging Stronger: Lasting Impact from Crisis Innovation, showcased inspirational best practice case studies of innovation resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, with contributions from a wide range of leading EPC members and edited by Prof Bev Gibbs and Dr Gary C Wood. Emerging Stronger provided members with inspiration, guidance – indeed, reassurance – as we faced an academic year with online or blended approaches to learning and teaching and encouraged colleagues to capture their own stories of innovation, and to reflect on the benefits and challenges that arise.

Drawing on the report, we held a live members webcast to explore the findings, featuring a keynote by Sir Michael Barber, then Chair of the Office for Students. We explored assessment; collaboration and professional skills; remote laboratory work and practical skill development; employability; and student partnership in learning design. Our timing was great too, as just a few days before Sir Michael was commissioned to conduct a review of government delivery to “ensure it remains focused, effective and efficient”.

The lessons of Emerging Stronger have also been fed into the OfS Government-commissioned call for evidence on digital learning that led to Gravity Assist: Propelling higher education towards a brighter future (which included a direct quotation from the EPC). We highlighted the ways engineering higher education has innovated digital teaching and how we can make the most of this exceptional progress in the future and presented three priorities for the engineering HE sector:

  • Facilitating agreement threshold expectations in relation to digital poverty as it applies to engineering education
  • Promoting conceptions of resilient learning and teaching
  • Providing a pipeline of ‘high-quality’ digital learning resources, for purposes of benchmarking and inspiration.

Reflections on colleagues’ experiences throughout this year are currently being collated into a second instalment publication.

Enrolments survey 2021

The EPC engineering enrolment survey gives you some clarity around the state of engineering HE enrolments. The survey gives members an early annual temperature check of the health of HE undergraduate and postgraduate engineering enrolments long before any official data for 2021/22 is available. This year saw a return to a full survey, following an abridged version last year to respond to the initial challenges of the pandemic. Member engagement was up even on pre-pandemic levels with approximately half of our member universities submitting a survey – covering nearly 200 discrete disciplines at 40 universities. Coverage was also consistent with pre-pandemic levels, with circa 30K enrolments covering all countries and regions of the UK.

Overall, volumes and first-degree distributions are holding up at pre-pandemic levels, with postgraduates up compared to previous years up (dominated by international / Russell Group). Engineering has strong home enrolments; however, as expected in the current climate, the numbers of EU enrolments has plummeted. Additionally, despite the survey confirming strong international numbers within the Russell Group (postgraduates), international enrolments are in decline overall, a worrying picture in a sector hinting at international growth. The sector divide is alive and well, with non-Russell Group universities dominating with particularly strong home undergraduate enrolments.

Engineering subjects within IT, systems sciences and computer software engineering are the star climbers, perhaps related to the AI phenomenon? On the other end of the spectrum, Electronic, electrical and computer engineering numbers are in decline, excepting a healthy representation within foundation degrees and degree apprenticeships. Nevertheless, overall other undergraduate programmes are down by 20% in our survey. While this may be related to uncertainty over these programmes pending the Augar review conclusions, however UCAS data released so far shows more interest than ever in apprenticeships.

Find out more here.

Enrolments survey 2020

Given the unprecedented competing deadlines and priorities this year, the EPC scaled back our research to focus on the changes experienced in new enrolments in engineering this autumn, while our members reported timing issues, complexities and structural changes resulting from Covid-19, and sensitivity and caution around engineering departments’ positions.

With over a third of responses recording new undergraduate enrolments at more than 10% higher than last year, and even more among home enrolments (which typically represent approximately three-quarters of the undergraduate population), we can be relatively assured that 2020 was a healthy year for home undergraduate engineering enrolments. What’s more, our survey also highlighted relative stability in the international undergraduate numbers this year, despite earlier fears in the sector of the impact of Covid-19 on global travel.

However, we found less stability at postgraduate level: over half of postgraduate engineering disciplines reported an overall decline in non-EU enrolments of more than 10%, and around 40% of postgraduate engineering disciplines surveyed experienced a drop in EU enrolments. These differences are important as approximately 2 in every 3 engineering postgraduates are international, suggesting the overseas engineering market may have shrunk this year in this context.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Let us know what you think of our website