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:

Emerging strongerEnrolments survey
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.

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