Prof Mike Sutcliffe, the current EPC President, summarises his first year as President and explains how the EPC has helped its members during a time of uncertainty in the government and the sector this past year…
It’s been a very busy year for the EPC in what continues to be a challenging and evolving landscape.
During the year we’ve had uncertainty in government and an unprecedented number of different Secretaries of State for Education. The government ordered us back to the drawing board on access and participation only for the Office for Students to reveal 3 months later – to everyone’s great relief – that we don’t have to fully replace our access and participation plans after all. In line with the position of EPC’s members, the government announced the scrapping plans for a post-qualifications admissions system.
The government also announced its long awaited response to the 2019 Augar Review. With Horizon Europe now seemingly going nowhere, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a policy paper outlining how the government will transition to a new R&D programme should association with Horizon Europe fails. The results of REF 2021 demonstrated the impressively high level of overall quality of Engineering research in the UK.
And as government, review, regulatory and funding bodies look to reshape themselves they have been consulting extensively with stakeholders.
Against this challenging and evolving landscape, the role of the EPC in representing the views of the entire HE engineering community has never been more critical.
One of the most important ways we make our voice heard is through our responses to consultations. This year we have responded to an unprecedented number of consultations – including consultations from: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Department for Education; Education Select Committee; Engineering Council; Higher Education Funding Council for Wales; House of Lords Science and Technology Committee; Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education; and Office for Students.
The role of EPC as a supportive community has also never been more critical – even more so as we transition together from the Covid-19 pandemic.
We were delighted to be back in person at Congress 2022: A better world. This was a great success with nearly 100 in-person attendees over three days. We heard from over 30 speakers in both keynote talks and panel sessions and enjoyed a variety of entertaining networking activities – it really hit home how fantastic it was to finally have an in-person event again.
During Congress, I was pleased to award the EPC’s President’s Prize to the very deserving Dr Hayaatun Sillem, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Dr Sillem’s speech around diversity and access to positions like CEO of RAEng highlighted many important points.
Congress also saw the launch of EPC Online – the EPC’s new online platform where members can engage with a much more accessible site with a personalised area on login and new features such as the data explorer.
In addition to Congress, we also ran a number of successful online events over the year. This included the always popular recruitment and admissions forum – which focussed on “Doing it differently”.
It has been a pleasure over the last year to launch two toolkits to support the community.
Our engineering ethics toolkit – developed with the support of the Royal Academy of Engineering – supports colleagues in incorporating ethics into the curriculum. This is part of the profession’s on-going work to embed ethical practice into the culture of engineering.
Our Crucible Project toolkit supports university and industry collaboration – embracing regional development, teaching & learning, knowledge exchange and graduate employability and recruitment.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support of the EPC.
The sheer volume of work being administered by our relatively small EPC Executive Team – and the quality of work being produced – is exceptional. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our team who – under the excellent leadership of our Chief Executive, Johnny Rich – deliver so much on behalf of all of us. This year, we were sad to say goodbye to Vicky Elston who, as Administrative Manager, has enabled EPC to run smoothly and efficiently for the last 17 years. We send her our very best wishes in her retirement.
The year ahead is full of challenges and opportunities. As engineers, we work most effectively when we work together to design effective solutions. I look forward to working with you all as we continue to build and further strengthen our community.
—- Prof Mike Sucliffe, EPC President