The 2021-22 academic year bought us some relief from the pandemic, allowing us to run our flagship Annual Congress once again in-person in 2022. Nevertheless, although in-person events seem to be the norm again we have ensured our online presence has been retained to reach as wide an audience as possible. Our 2021 Recruitment and Admissions forum was organised into three distinct online events and we conducted two further webinars to launch our Crucible Project and the Engineering Ethics Toolkit in 2022. Our extensive events programme saw many hundreds of our members access a plethora of free online webcasts and jam-packed in-person events. Click on each of the tabs below to see some of our event highlights:
Congress 2022: A Better World was back to an in-person event and hosted by UWE, Bristol on the 7-9th June. There were around 100 attendees over the three days, with over 30 speakers and a variety of entertaining networking activities, including tours of UWE’s state of the art engineering facilities, Morris dancing and dinner aboard the SS Great Britain. Members were able to explore how engineering can help build a better world through keynote talks delivered by Dame Judith Hackitt on what can be learnt from events like Grenfell on delivering outcomes that benefit society; Chris Skidmore MP on the role of engineers on the path to Net Zero; Prof Steve West on the critical role of UK universities in supporting the local and global agenda by building the skills and innovation; and Prof Dame Ottoline Leyser on the role of research and innovation in creating a more sustainable and ethical future. Panel discussions consisting of a variety of experts and students considered how to help the next generation of engineers to make sensible and environmentally responsible decisions; who the next generation of engineers should be; how can we build confidence in engineering educators and students to discuss on tough, open-ended questions about ethical issues; and what accreditation could look like in the future. Congress 2022 also provided the perfect venue to showcase and launch the EPC’s new online platform.
Congress 2021: A Better World (our two-year Congress theme to span virtual and physical events) featured Chris Skidmore MP, former Universities Minister and Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Digital Science & Technology. ‘Research for a Better World’ discussed how the UK can utilise research and engineering to ‘build back better’ only with greater investment into the UK’s researchers and skills pipeline and greater innovation to tackle the challenges of climate change, Net Zero and the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘A New Kind of Engineering’, argued that the Government must do more to increase diversity in engineering for the sake of the economy and called for greater examination of the ethical considerations of engineering as industries become increasingly powerful. It included a personal reflection on how engineering has influenced Chi’s political career.
Our first online Annual Congress, in autumn 2020: Industry & Academia: Supercharging the Crucible, saw over 30 speakers delivered 5 sessions over 4 days of sessions, activities and events. Members explored the interface between industry and academia and some of the challenges to developing the relationship between industry and academia. The event concluded five areas for follow-up by the EPC: universities’ and businesses’ shared role in regional development; collaborating with industry for teaching and learning; knowledge exchange; research; and graduate employability and recruitment.
Trusted research: how secure is your research? supported academics to balance the opportunities of international research collaboration with the security risks connected with intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.
Introduced by David Sweeney, Executive Chair of UKRI, and featuring anonymous government security advisors, the webinar explored how engineering underpins critical infrastructure and the development of sensitive technologies. It concluded with a Trusted Research briefing on securing the integrity of the system of international research collaboration, vital to the continued success of the UK’s research and innovation sector.
Although this event was not recorded, you can read a thorough summary of this thought-provoking event here.
Engineering Engineering: A Provocation launched a highly provocative and personal reflection by Professor Kel Fidler, former Chair of the Engineering Council and former Vice Chancellor of Northumbria University, in which he offered some radical solutions to the issues facing Engineering higher education.
This event featured experts on the role of outreach in promoting engineering; how we might attract more women into engineering; the public perception of engineering; and the distinction between design engineering and engineering science.
The speakers for the event included Dr Sarah Jayne Hitt, Project manager of our ethics project; Prof Raffaella Ocone, Chair of our advisory group; Prof Matt Studley and Prof Mike Bramhall, both members of our advisory group. The webinar saw 89 attendees joining us for an hour to discuss the engineering ethics scholarship and pedagogy behind our toolkit.
The audience was involved not only in asking questions during the webinar, but also by contributing to a Padlet (a virtual bulletin board) that was set up for event attendees and speakers to share their thoughts on a few topics for consideration before, during and after the event.
You can access the recording of this event here.
Over 120 attendees joined us for this online event which saw a huge range of case studies outlining innovative and engaging collaborations between academia and industry, as well as a guest lecture by Prof. John Patsavellas (Cranfield University).
The fantastic presentations were all recorded and can be viewed here.
The Recruitment and Admissions forum in 2021 focussed on Doing it differently – with three webinars: Getting in: Entrance requirements; Getting out there: International students and postgraduates; Getting on: Lifelong Learning held in November and December. These webinars were a deep dive into widening access, increasing diversity and the role of admissions, with an aim of airing provocative blue-sky ideas from our panel of experts – and our audience – to explore what could be done differently in these areas. At the end of the webinar series, Stella Fowler, the EPC’s Policy and Research Lead, presented the 2021/22 enrolments survey results.
In the first session our panel discussed Getting in to engineering courses with our provocateur, Prof Georgina Harris (Arden University) taking aim at social advantage, contextual offers, entry requirements and personal statements. The panel hotly debated these topics offering up thoughts on rejecting the need for maths and physics as entry requirements, that losing personal statements would be detrimental to some students and that high level UCAS points for entry to engineering courses should be removed.
The second, Getting out there opened with a presentation by Steph Harris (UUKi) providing an overview of what could be done differently to attract international – and postgraduate – students in the light of Brexit and COVID. The expert panellists raised points on the need to focus on international student employability, to learn lessons from the pandemic, individualised application processes, bursaries and the importance of diversity throughout all aspects of education.
Finally, the third webinar looked at Getting on and the world of lifelong learning, Martin Eason (University of Wolverhampton) provided a provocation in which he suggested education tends to keep taking individuals up a slope and then dropping them off without further support, with their futures defined by early life choices. The panellists contributed points on T-Levels, the complexity of the qualifications system, importance of collaboration between employers and educators and diversifying assessment systems. These three webinars were incredibly successful and attracted over 140 attendees – this online format clearly allowed us to reach a wider audience than in previous years where the forum was held as in person events before the pandemic.
View all of the recordings from these events here.
Recruitment and admissions forum 2020: it seems that everyone waded into the Post Qualification Admissions (PQA) debate in 2019. Pre-empting this we surveyed our members last summer to develop an engineering admissions profile to give insight into how our sector manages admissions. Understanding what our members are doing, has been critical in supporting the EPC’s role carefully evidencing HE engineering’s collective admissions behaviour in response to admissions consultations. And with interventions on admissions from UniversitiesUK, UCAS and the Government in the days running up to the annual Recruitment and Admissions Forum, our debate on entry qualifications could not have been timelier. Our student numbers session, which offered a first glimpse at the health of engineering enrolments and looked forward to 2021 recruitment and admissions. We also followed up by debunking the myths around whether international students still want to come to the UK to study engineering amid the triple-whammy of Covid, Brexit and visa rule changes. Finally, with conflicting imperatives at play in the sector, our closing session discussed fair access in engineering HE.
Access the recordings of these events below:
- Recruitment and Admissions Forum (2020 series): Fair access: where now?
- Recruitment and Admissions Forum (2020 series): Student numbers: where now?
- Recruitment and Admissions Forum (2020 series): International students: where now?
- Recruitment and Admissions Forum (2020 series): Entry qualifications: where now?