Guest blog: EPC Hammermen student prize

Congratulations to Rachel Beel, Glasgow Caledonian University, and to Dan Hicks, University of Brighton, joint winners of the 2020 EPC Hammermen Student Award. The Hammermen Award is an annual prize, presented in association with the Hammermen of Glasgow, to celebrate engineering students’ excellence. This year’s award received an unprecedented number of submissions and five finalists competed for the coveted prize at the EPC Congress. To see Rachel and Dan’s posters and multi-media pitches, as well as the other short and longlisted applicants, visit the EPC events microsite.

We asked Rachel to tell us about her win and this is what she said:

“My name is Rachel Beel and I was one of the winners of this years Hammerman Award for my poster on the link between Academia and Industry.

My poster highlighted how my work placement in industry ended up driving me towards my final thesis topic. The skills and experience I had gained in the workplace were built upon by researching and completing my final thesis on: The Design, Manufacture and FEA of a Thin-Walled Pressure Vessel.My placement was at Pacson Valves in Dundee where I was in the engineering office working on 2D and 3D drawings and models, alongside pressure retaining calculations and some supply chain work. The main skills gained from this was the ability to apply a design code to calculations correctly and figuring out how to do so effectively. I took it upon myself to use 3 different design codes in my thesis: the ASME BPVC, BS EN 13445 and PD500.

My poster also managed to highlight the struggles I had faced with being a student applying design codes and how certain sections and attributes would be left to ‘the experience of the engineer’, along with a few others. However despite these struggles and a global pandemic I still managed to get a First-Class Honours degree from home.

My experience of the virtual congress and meeting the other finalists was great. Hearing about everyone else’s posters and what they were currently working on was very interesting and actually gave me little hope I’d manage to win since I seemed to be the only one at my level- just finishing my fourth year and graduating. If you’re thinking on entering you definitely should even if you don’t think you’ll get anywhere with it. I never thought I’d be long-listed, never-mind a finalist or winning it so you never know what will happen! By next years congress I am hoping to be able to finally get a graduate job as COVID-19 has cancelled most, if not all, opportunities for me to get one right now. I have however managed to put the prize money towards a new iPad Air that will keep me entertained in the mean time, to draw and do some art commission work before hopefully moving forward in my engineering career.”

For information on other Hammermen awards, please visit their website.

EPC engineering enrolments survey results 2020/21

The EPC engineering enrolments survey gives us an early annual temperature check of the health of HE undergraduate and postgraduate engineering enrolments.

Sector pressures undoubtedly impacted the 2021 survey. The EPC reduced our focus to the changes experienced in new enrolments in engineering this autumn (plus changes in deferral and attrition behaviours) leaving us without underlying distributions to share with you. Our members faced unprecedented barriers to engagement this year, including competing deadlines and priorities; timing issues; complexities and structural changes resulting from Covid-19; and sensitivity and caution around their position.

Despite these compromises, we have together created a survey sample of:

  • 35 EPC member universities
  • covering both undergraduate and PG cohorts
  • with well distributed responses across engineering (175 distinct disciplines)
  • representing all countries and regions of the UK
  • and a typical institution type profile of previous annual EPC enrolment surveys.

Furthermore, we know our annual survey typically broadly reflects published engineering HE trends (many months after we share our findings). We tend to capture:

  • similar domicile profiles (roughly 3 in 4 undergrads in our survey are UK domiciled and approximately 2 in every 3 postgraduates are international)
  • a high proportion of overseas postgraduate enrolments, especially within the Russell Group
  • and the popularity of Mechanical (undergraduate) and Electrical, electronic and computer engineering (postgraduate).

We hope we have judged this year’s particularly challenging balance of burden, valid coverage and utility in a way which both instils your confidence and continues to offer useful insight. We are grateful to those of you who assured us of the survey’s continued high value during the collection process and thank you for recognising both its strengths and weaknesses. Your support for the survey is greatly appreciated, thank you.

Enrolments compared with 2019-20

In total, the undergraduate level of change tended towards growth, with over one-third of responses (reported by discrete discipline level) recording new enrolments at more than 10% higher – in fact, many of you reported even greater growth, citing the central policy change days into confirmation (Centre Assessed Grades) as an impetus for unexpected growth. This is supported by the pattern of home undergraduate enrolment growth, including increases of more than 10% which were higher among home enrolments than overall. Given that home undergraduates represent approximately ¾ of the undergraduate population, we can be relatively assured that 2020 was a healthy year for home undergraduate engineering enrolments. (Figure 1.)

What’s more, both EU and non-EU overseas changes in enrolment are pretty uniform, with reported levels about the same as last year dominating the mid-point with substantial range. This suggests stability in the overseas engineering undergraduate sector again this year, despite earlier fears in the sector of the impact of Covid-19 on international travel. (Figure 1.)

However, we observe less stability at postgraduate level, with non-EU enrolments showing an overall decline; over half of postgraduate engineering disciplines surveyed reported a drop in enrolments of more than 10%. Around 40% of postgraduate engineering disciplines surveyed reported 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. (Figure 1.)

Overall, home engineering postgraduates are reported to have increased, by more than 10% in over 40% of responses. Despite this, nearly 1 in 3 responses recorded enrolments to be more than 10% lower in this cohort, indicating a mixed bag within the engineering postgraduate sector. (Figure 1.) Further analysis shows that Mechanical engineering is of note at postgraduate level, clearly bucking the general decline overall in 2020. The postgraduate engineering superstar, Electrical, electronic and computer engineering appears relatively stable. (Figure 2.) This is not so at undergraduate level, where this discipline bucks the growth trend (Figure 3).

By university type, the survey reveals that the greatest decline in postgraduate engineering enrolments is skewed towards Russell Group members, who see higher international enrolments overall. Conversely, Russell Group universities dominate the increasing trends in undergraduate enrolments in engineering; with 60% of distinct disciplines at Russell Group members reporting undergraduate growth, compared with about half of that proportion at their non-Russell Group counterparts. (Figure 4.)

Regional analysis highlights a clear North / South divide at postgraduate level; decline is more pronounced than growth everywhere north of and including the Midlands. London and Wales show the greatest relative growth. (Figure 5.)

At undergraduate level, the greatest enrolments stability (in terms of “about the same” responses) is in Wales although we witness greater decline than growth (in small measure), However, the proportion of respondents reporting a decline in new enrolments of greater than 10% is broadly in line with the other regions; this is a remarkably consistent measure at undergraduate level, with the exception only of London and the East / South east. The Midlands shows the greatest proportional decline in undergraduate enrolments overall. London witnesses the greatest relative growth. (Figure 6.)

Deferrals

We sought data on deferrals in the context, initially, of reports that applicants might be deferring in greater numbers due to the uncertainty resulting from the pandemic. However, as the cycle progressed, it became clear that deferrals were also being driven by universities struggling to cope with the impact of the unprecedented shifting of results during confirmation in 2020 (qualifying a high number of conditional firms). The data we received was not extensive but did suggest an overall tendency towards more deferrals than last year, particularly among postgraduates (specifically international postgraduates) and Non-EU and home undergraduates. (Figure 7.)

Attrition

The data we received on students not returning / dropping out was patchy and ambiguous, not least because of delayed processes, exceptional delayed starts this year and more general confusion around (non) returning students and how to count them. However, the data we did receive does suggest an increase in dropout; in fact, some qualitative reports of increased progression as a result of pandemic pressures were received.

Context

Of course, we know that recruitment and selection is made in the context of institutional recruitment and admissions strategies and internal strategic pressures in any year. For example, some of the fluctuations in numbers will be influenced not current market forces but by changing course profiles and conscious decisions to adjust cohort size,.

In the devolved countries, in particular, we were told that these were also influenced by government policy and funding initiatives. Other policy factors cited included managing the impact of the central government changes to the summer exam series results and the economic context in which student decision-making occurs.

This year, many members were mindful of the impacts of Covid-19 on overseas partnerships, geography and travel limitations, and shared a wealth of administrative workarounds at play including delayed starts, arrivals and registrations and exceptional late intakes.

Sector behavior was also cited as a factor in enrolment trends; there was a perception of some pre-result unconditional offer making and, initially, unusual confirmation at lower than advertised entry requirements.

Further information

In addition to the images published above, the slide deck from the EPC Recruitment and Admissions Forum launch is available to download for all EPC members.

EPC Recruitment and Admissions Forum 2020 Series Speakers

Jon Adamson (Entry qualifications, 18/11)

Jon Adamson is Director of Post-16 Standards at Oakgrove School, Milton Keynes. Jon has 25 years of experience working in state schools. He has spent 20 of those years in the role of Head of Sixth Form in three very different schools in London and Milton Keynes. An English teacher at heart, Jon has also taught a range of other subjects including Classical Civilisations.

Oakgrove School has been praised for its excellent careers provision and has been well ahead of the game in meeting all Gatsby benchmarks. In recent years, Jon has been focusing on increasing the number of students progressing to competitive courses and universities, especially Oxbridge and medicine.


Prof Louise Archer (Fair access, 18/11)

Louise Archer is the Karl Mannheim Professor of Sociology of Education at UCL Institute of Education. Her research focuses on educational identities and inequalities, particularly in relation to gender, ethnicity and social class. She directs a number of large funded research studies focusing on understanding and addressing injustices in young people’s engagement with science/ STEM in both school and out-of-school settings, including the ASPIRES, Youth Equity + STEM, Primary Science Capital: A whole school approach and Making Spaces projects.


Dr Jude Brereton (Entry qualifications, 18/11)

Jude is a Senior Lecturer in Audio and Music Technology at the University of York with research interests in interactive acoustic environments for musical performance. Since 2017 she has been Undergraduate Admissions Tutor for the Department of Electronic Engineering, where she is responsible for recruiting and admitting students to a variety of programmes in Electronic Engineering and specialisms such as Audio and Music Technology Systems, Nanotechnology, Medical Engineering and Robotics. She is a strong advocate for gender equality, serving as a UK Athena SWAN panel member and chair. She is dedicated to promoting inclusive engineering, through innovative, creative approaches to teaching, which are grounded in interdisciplinary research and sit at the boundary between arts and technology. 


Prof Mike Bramhall (Student numbers, 02/12)

Mike is Emeritus Professor of Engineering Education at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), having previously been the Assistant Dean Academic Development for the faculty of Arts, Computing Engineering & Sciences until his retirement in 2017, after working there for 30 years. He now works as an independent Higher Education consultant. Mike has been on QAA teams for Subject Review, Higher Education Review, Quality Review Visits and Quality and Standards Review for a wide range of Universities, further education colleges and alternative providers. He is a Governor at Northern College for Adult Education, Barnsley, and chairs its Quality Committee. Mike is a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and is also an active member and on the Board of the UK Engineering Professors’ Council, being also a member of its Recruitment and Admissions sub-committee. He was Associate Director of the SHU Learner Autonomy CETL from 2005 to 2010 and has worked for the HEA as an Associate Director of the Materials Subject Centre from 2003 to 2012 at the University of Liverpool. Mike is a National Teaching Fellow and a Principal Fellow of the HEA. He played a key role as Project Manager in developing Sheffield Hallam’s Retention & Student Success Strategy, which was subsequently adopted by Brighton University.


Dr Steve Bullock (Entry qualifications, 18/11)

Dr Steve Bullock is Programme Director for Aerospace Engineering at the University of Bristol, and leads on Widening Participation across the Faculty of Engineering. Previously a physics teacher, he was on the founding team of a highly-successful central London academy, later moving into HE with a teaching focus on inclusion and transition, and research interests in aerial robotics for search and rescue and humanitarian applications via his work in the Bristol Flight Lab. He has consulted on wide-ranging outreach including Google’s Global Science Fair and Ben Ainsley Racing’s STEM Crew, and co-hosts ‘The Guardian’s favourite podcast’, The Cosmic Shed, covering science fact, science fiction, and everything in between.

Contact: steve.bullock@bristol.ac.uk; http://weird.engineer 


Lucy Collins (Student numbers, 02/12)

Lucy Collins is Director of Home Recruitment and Conversion, University of Bristol. Lucy graduated from the University of Bristol with a BSc in Sociology in 2000.  She then went on to gain an MSc in Sociology and Social Research in 2004. Lucy has always been interested in education and believes strongly in the transformative effect of higher education. Following two years working for the educational charity Common Purpose, running a citizenship programme for young people, Lucy returned to the University to take up the post of Schools and Colleges Liaison Officer in the newly created Widening Participation Office. In 2006 she was appointed as Head of Widening Participation and Undergraduate Recruitment. In 2015 Lucy became Head of UK Student Recruitment at the University of Bristol, a role encompassing the development and delivery of strategy for the recruitment of all home students at undergraduate and postgraduate level.  In July 2018 Lucy became the Director of Home Recruitment and Conversion. Lucy and the Home Recruitment Team developed the Bristol Scholar’s scheme in 2016, a new initiative designed attract high quality students from the city of Bristol whose potential is not reflected in their predicted A Level grades. Lucy has been a school governor for over 12 years.  She is currently Vice Chair on the Board of Venturers Trust, a multi-academy trust in Bristol, co-sponsored by the University and the Society of Merchant Venturers.


Dr Mark Corver (International students, 25/11)

Mark has worked on data in higher education for over 20 years. Most recently this has been with dataHE – a business dedicated to helping universities use data better –  which he set up with colleague Andrew Hargreaves two years ago. Prior to founding dataHE, Mark was Director of Analysis and Research at UCAS. Here he built a data science capability that innovated across research, data products, and digital marketing areas. Previously Mark has worked for HEFCE, OFFA and central Government, playing a leading role in development of many of the analytical structures supporting the sector. Mark has degrees in spatial statistics and chemistry and is an advocate of code-based data-led methods for successful outcomes in the higher education sector.


Peter Derrick (Student numbers, 02/12)

Peter joined UCAS is 2015, initially as Head of Service Delivery, subsequently taking on the Admissions Delivery portfolio, covering the full breath of UCAS’ Operational Delivery. He leads and manages the core service delivery to UCAS’s provider, student, and adviser customer groups. He is accountable for the admissions, results, collection, and data quality services, including digital learning and business change. He leads the delivery of the annual Confirmation and Clearing activity as well as working across the breath of UCAS’s change initiatives. Peter is a Biochemistry and Physiology graduate with experience broad range of roles related to applicant and student administration, including Head of Admissions at both the University of Southampton and Middlesex University.


Dr Inês Direito (International students, 25/11)

Inês Direito, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Engineering Education (CEE), University College London, UK. She is a psychologist working in engineering education research since 2007. Her main  focuses are on the development of transversal and professional skills; gender, diversity and inclusion; and, more broadly, how social and cognitive sciences can inform engineering education and practice. She is the Chair of SEFI’s Special Interest Group on Gender & Diversity, member of the UK and Ireland Engineering Education Research Network (UK&IE EERN) Steering committee, and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Gero Federkeil (International students, 25/11)

U-Multirank


Stella Fowler (Student numbers, 02/12)

Stella Fowler is the EPC Executive Policy and Research lead. She is responsible for all aspects of policy and research including projects; data analysis; report writing; member surveys and consultations; and events and communications. Stella has worked in HE analysis for over 20 years with experience at UCAS, on the Higher Education Strategic Planners Association (HESPA) Board and in senior university planning and research data management roles.


Anne Marie Graham (International students, 25/11)

Anne Marie Graham is Chief Executive of UKCISA. Anne Marie joined UKCISA in 2019 from the Association of Commonwealth Universities, where she was Director of Chevening, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s flagship global scholarship scheme.
Prior to that, Anne Marie has led on a range of educational programmes and projects promoting international mobility and intercultural exchange. At Universities UK International, she developed the first government-funded UK Strategy for Outward Mobility, and established the Go International programme to build capacity and influence institutional change in UK universities to increase the proportion of UK domiciled students with international experience. Before moving into the education sector, Anne Marie spent several years in the language services industry managing high profile accounts with multinational engineering and pharmaceutical companies. Anne Marie is a linguist, with a first degree in Modern Languages from Anglia Ruskin University and a postgraduate translation qualification from University of Westminster.


Josephine Hansom (Fair access, 02/12)

Josephine oversees all youth research and insight at the award-winning agency, YouthSight. Leading a team of specialist researchers, she helps clients grow by better understanding the needs of Millennials and Gen Z. During her nineteen years as a researcher Josephine has worked with many university clients as well as brands like the BBC, BMW, Facebook, Google, Tinder and Sport England. She is the mastermind behind the State of the Youth Nation – the most up-to-date youth tracker in the UK; keeping clients plugged into youth culture since 2015. She is a regular on the conference circuit, having spoken in Milan, Chicago, Boston and Vienna.

Twitter: @JosephineHansom / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephinehansom/


Dr Georgina Harris (International students, 25/11)

Georgina is Director of Engineering at The University of Salford. She joined the university after working at Manchester Metropolitan University for over five years where she held the post of Head of School of Engineering and Associate Dean. Georgina is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer with an Engineering Doctorate.  She holds two Master’s Degrees: one in Mechanical Engineering and the other in Business Administration. She is a passionate advocate for engineering with a firm belief that it can solve the world’s grand challenges and improve daily life for everyone. Georgina also feels that engineering has the potential to provide social mobility for our successful graduates.


Rachel Hewitt (Student numbers, 02/12)

Rachel joined HEPI in November 2018, as Director of Policy and Advocacy and has written about a wide variety of HE policy issues, including the financial stability of universities and the impact of focusing on graduate employment metrics. Prior to joining HEPI, Rachel held a number of roles at the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), focused on data policy and governance and gathering requirements for information that could be met from HESA data. Rachel also lead on the review of data on graduate destinations and designed and implemented the new Graduate Outcomes survey.


Dr Omar Khan (Fair access 09/12)

Dr Omar Khan is Director of the Centre for Transforming Access and Students Outcomes in Higher Education (TASO). Omar joined TASO from race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, where he had been Director since 2014. Prior to this, Omar was Head of Policy at the Runnymede Trust and led its financial inclusion programme.

Omar holds several advisory positions, including chair of Olmec, chair of the Ethnicity Strand Advisory Group to Understanding Society, chair of the advisory group of the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity at the University of Manchester, Commissioner on the Financial Inclusion Commission and a member of the 2021 REF and 2014 REF assessment. Omar was previously a Governor at the University of East London and a 2012 Clore Social Leadership Fellow.


Dr Steph Neave (Fair access, 09/12)

Stephanie Neave is the Head of Research at EngineeringUK, where she is responsible for developing and delivering the organisation’s research programme, including its State of Engineering reports; the Engineering Brand Monitor, a national survey of young people, teachers and parents on their attitudes toward engineering; and research initiatives to support the STEM community to improve educational outreach. Prior to EngineeringUK, she led research in various education policy organisations on behalf of bodies such as the European Commission, the Home Office, and HEFCE on topics ranging from the diversity of the scientific workforce to the BME degree attainment gap.


Rohit Ramesh (International students, 25/11)

Rohit Ramesh is Head of International Student Recruitment at the University of Liverpool, where he is responsible for providing strategic direction to the institution’s internationalisation objectives. In this role he manages a team that is tasked with devising and overseeing the implementation of the University’s strategy to increase the number of international students coming to study at Liverpool, through the University’s network of partners; exploring and bringing suitable opportunities to grow its overseas partnerships; and managing student numbers and relationships with governmental and commercial partners. Prior to this, he was in the Investment Banking sector, having worked for companies like Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. Rohit holds an MBA from the University of Liverpool and is a registered Member of the Chartered Management Institute.


Johnny Rich (Fair access 09/12)

As well as his Chief Executive role with the EPC, Johnny Rich is well known across the higher education sector as a high-profile commentator on policy issues as well as the chief executive of student advice and outreach organisation Push, as a consultant working in education and careers, and as an author. Before joining the EPC, Johnny has already worked on many issues of concern to our members. Over the past 25 years, he led Push’s research – such as on drop-out rates and student debt – which has had direct impacts on policy. Johnny’s thought leadership, such as his papers for a graduate levy and a national access fund (2018) and on employability (2015) for the Higher Education Policy Institute, have been influential throughout the sector. Policy issues are also a significant part of his consultancy work, along with communications. His clients have included the European Commission, HEFCE, U-Multirank, as well as many universities, recruiters and charities. He’s a regular speaker at conferences, awards and in schools. In 2013, his novel A Human Script was published.

Twitter @JohnnySRich


Dennis Sherwood (Entry qualifications, 18/11)

Dennis now runs his own consulting business, The Silver Bullet Machine Manufacturing Company Limited, working with clients in all sectors and all scales on creativity and innovation – including many academic science and engineering departments, and DTCs, under the EPSRC’s “Creativity@home” programme. And, following an assignment for Ofqual in 2013, using systems thinking to compile causal loop diagrams to map all the systems within which Ofqual operates, Dennis has been an active campaigner for the award of grades that are fully reliable and trustworthy. Earlier in his career, Dennis was an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs and a consulting partner in Deloitte, having read Natural Sciences (Physics Part II) at Clare College, Cambridge, followed by an MPhil (Molecular Biophysics) from Yale and a PhD (Biology) from the University of California at San Diego. Dennis has written many journal articles and blogs, and is also the author of 11 books on a variety of subjects – including thermodynamics!


Helen Thorne MBE (Entry qualifications, 18/11)

Helen has over 25 years of experience working with the HE sectors in the UK and the US, covering student recruitment, admissions, research and innovation.  She was most recently Director of External Relations for UCAS with responsibility for strategy, digital product management, marketing, PR and student exhibitions.  Helen serves as an independent governor for Northumbria University and two schools in Swindon. 


Thijs van Vugt (International students, 25/11)

Thijs van Vugt is the strategic power of the Analytics and Consulting Team at Studyportals. With 30 years of experience in international education, he brings to the table experience as an entrepreneur, consultant, trainer, author and board member. Some of his recent clients include University of London, University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, University of Nottingham, Glasgow Caledonian University, Karolinska Institute, Sciences Po, the European Commission Pearson, San Diego State University, Keypath and PwC. Thijs is the founder of the Expert Community Marketing & Recruitment of the EAIE. He was chair of M&R (2002-2008) and a member of EAIE’s Executive Board (2004-2008). In 2006 he published a book on The Impact of Tuition Fees on International Student Recruitment and in September 2009 was awarded the Bo Gregersen Award for Best Practice of the EAIE. Thijs holds a Master’s in International Economics from Tilburg University and post-graduate diplomas in Public Management (Tias Business School) and Customer Relationship Management (Beeckestijn Business School).


EPC Recruitment and Admissions Forum 2020 Series Posters

Click on the thumbnails below to view the posters.

UK engineering students’ maths entry qualifications: grades and non-progression

Tim Bullough, University of Liverpool

NMITE recruitment and selection

Costa Coleman, New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering

Experiential Capital of mature returners to Engineering Education

Martin Eason, University of Wolverhampton

Math workshop as a valuable vehicle to learning

Karin Ennser, Swansea University

In engineering, what changes would be needed to receive applications / make offers after level 3 results were known? And what might be the unintended consequences?

Stella Fowler, EPC

Guest Blog: To trust or not to trust?

Imagine the situation, you have worked tirelessly to make a discovery which is important, potentially revolutionary, or worked long days and nights and sacrificed everything in order to bring that life changing product to the market. You feel elated and hopeful of what the future holds only to find out that everything you have worked for is for naught as your partners have passed off all your work as their own. Or even worse the discoveries you have made are being used to increase oppression, or worse, and your reputation is damaged even though you had no knowledge of the use. The following case study shows the risks:

A university signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on research into facial recognition technology with an overseas university. As part of the proposal, the overseas university committed to providing significant funding and to sponsor two research fellows. The university conducted in-depth due diligence, including financial assurance and checking compliance with export control legislation. A year into the research, a newspaper published an exposé which highlighted well-publicised details of the overseas university’s work with the military and police of their country to support surveillance and repression of dissents to the political leadership.

I wish I could say these were one off incidents but worryingly, this is happening a lot more than is realised. A quick search online reveals stories of IP theft from universities or AI being used to increase mass surveillance.  However, these risks can be mitigated and CPNI and NCSC are here to help.

The CPNI (the national technical authority for physical and personnel security) have now collaborated with the NCSC (the national technical authority for cyber security) to bring you Trusted Research to support academics to manage the risks to international research collaboration. This guidance

  • Outlines the potential risks to UK research and innovation
  • Helps researchers, UK universities and industry partners to have confidence in international collaboration and make informed decisions around those potential risks
  • Explains how to protect research and staff from potential theft, misuse or exploitation

The website also includes a simple checklist to help identify potential risks and also has guidance for senior leaders.

We recognise international collaboration is vital, we also realise that collaborating with the wrong people could end up costing everything, rather than paying dividends.

In an increasingly uncertain world, it is safer to know who you are doing business with.

Guest Blog: Engineering Council on Revised Standards

By Catherine Elliott, Education and Skills Manager at the Engineering Council

The fourth edition of Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (AHEP) has been published, ahead of the 2020-2021 academic year. There will be a transition period, from publication until the start of the 2023 academic year, during which providers can request accreditation against the old or new learning outcomes.  

Accreditation is the process of reviewing an engineering degree programme to judge whether or not it meets the defined standards set by the Engineering Council. A degree may be accredited by one or more of the engineering institutions licensed to do so, particularly where it spans several engineering disciplines. Accredited engineering degrees offer students, their parents and advisors, and employers an important mark of assurance that the programme meets the high standards set by the engineering profession.

Alongside the fourth edition of AHEP, we have published:

  • a summary of key changes to the document
  • a comparison of the learning outcomes in this fourth edition to the previous edition of AHEP, ‘Mapping Learning Outcomes AHEP4 against AHEP3’
  • a table of ‘Defining characteristics and learning outcomes’, which sets out the characteristics that define accredited programmes and the generic learning outcomes

all of which are available at: https://www.engc.org.uk/ahep4th

Revisions to AHEP aim to encourage development of innovative programmes and pedagogy, as well as making the importance of industry involvement in programme design and delivery clear. The updated document also has a sharper focus on inclusive design and innovation, and the coverage of areas such as sustainability and ethics.

Approval and Accreditation of Qualifications and Apprenticeships (AAQA) is the new Engineering Council Standard against which apprenticeships (including Degree Apprenticeships and Graduate Apprenticeships) and non-degree qualifications can be recognised.   AAQA supports the formal recognition of competence, as well as knowledge and understanding, developed through non-degree qualifications and apprenticeships. For higher level programmes this refers to the same defining characteristics and generic learning outcomes as degree accreditation.

More information on and links to all the Engineering Council’s revised Standards is available in our press release.

The Engineering Council would like to thank the professional engineering community for its valuable contribution to this process, including providing consultation responses and nominating volunteers for the relevant Working Groups. This revision of our Standards would not have been possible without the expert perspectives offered by higher education providers, the professional engineering institutions and the community as a whole.

Emerging Stronger: Lasting Impact from Crisis Innovation – a new publication

At the start of 2020, no-one could have known what major changes lay just three months ahead for HE. Yet, here we are living through a pandemic, and in the midst of one of the most significant, challenging, and disruptive periods imaginable.

As COVID-19 hit, we all saw and delivered innovation, change, and resilience in colleagues and students of unprecedented scope, on an unprecedented scale, and at unprecedented speed. What was striking about these changes was the apparent loss of perceived barriers that had previously hindered innovation. COVID-19 provided a new freedom for us all to try new ideas and do things differently, and a catalyst for everyone to do so: the status quo no longer existed to be maintained.

An obvious question quickly arose: what value might there be in the longer term retention of some of these new approaches, beyond the immediate crisis? Some benefits seemed immediately apparent – for example, open-book assessment prompted a shift to more authentic questions of application rather than simple recall of knowledge; digital delivery of lectures enabled students to choose the pace and place of their learning with greater flexibility; and students’ employability was enhanced through developing skills in collaboration across space and time. There were, of course, challenges, too: How do we develop practical skills in students at a distance? How can students gain workplace experience in the absence of internships? How do we maintain academic standards in remote assessments?

To explore these questions, we launched a series of webinars – Engineering Education: Lasting Impact from Crisis Innovation – through our Pioneering Programmes and Practice in Engineering Education Advance HE Connect network. Across six weeks, we brought together over 250 educators and practitioners to share ideas and discover how the sector was responding. We explored assessment; collaboration and professional skills; remote laboratory work and practical skill development; employability; and student partnership in learning design. In the sixth week, eight invited contributions from across the sector showcased emerging good practice.

We were encouraged to see so many positive innovations, and the creativity of our community in keeping the show on the road, with determination to deliver positive learning outcomes for students. Emerging Stronger: Lasting Impact from Crisis Innovation  – published today by the EPC – celebrates this work, sharing the thinking and discussion that we explored together. It adds further examples of emerging good practice in case studies from colleagues across the sector, and students’ perspectives on the changes to their learning experience.

We hope that Emerging Stronger will provide inspiration, guidance – indeed, reassurance – to colleagues as we now face the challenge, over summer 2020, of planning for the start of the new academic year with online or blended approaches to learning and teaching. We encourage you to capture your own stories of innovation, and to reflect on the benefits and challenges that arise. The EPC has created a new set of webpages to share your innovations with the wider community, and we encourage you to tell us what you’ve been doing, using this form.


Engineering admissions: share your insights and help us make engineering’s voice heard in the national admissions debate.

EPC response to the Office for Students (OfS) consultation on the higher education admissions system in England.

In response to both the pending consultation and the uncertainty around this year’s university admissions the EPC is conducting a one-off admissions survey (in addition to our annual temperature check of the health of HE engineering enrolments which will take a light touch this Autumn). Please complete the survey here. You can view all questions here before you begin.

Background

Earlier this year, the OfS launched a review of the current English higher education admissions system, with an emphasis on the interests of undergraduate applicants. The scope included the effectiveness of the current admissions system as well as reform.

The consultation was paused – in response to the coronavirus outbreak – before it really got going, but not before it was heavily criticised for overstepping the mark when it comes to institutional autonomy and the right of individual providers “to determine the criteria for the admission of students and apply those criteria in particular cases” (as per the Higher Education and Research Act).

Meanwhile, despite the OfS not having the power – at that point at least – to require changes to individual institutions’ admissions processes, and the coronavirus pause in the admissions consultation, ministers and the OfS waded in to “protect” the integrity and stability of the English higher education sector by imposing an unconditional offers moratorium and proposing the extension of OfS’s regulatory powers regarding admissions. A new temporary condition on sector stability and integrity was adopted by OfS on 3rd July 2020 but the scope of the condition was narrowed as a result of EPC and others’ lobbying, with only unconditional offers and marketing activity in final scope. The EPC’s concern that OfS would be able to take enforcement action in relation to conduct that predated the consultation was heard, and this additional power conceded.

At the same time, other reform pressures are rife and PQA is undoubtedly back on the agenda.

EPC Admissions Survey

With the triple whammy of curbed international student imports, squeezed budgets and student number controls weighing down on HE engineering portfolios, we know that the HE engineering sector needs to know more…urgently. An engineering admissions profile will give our members an insight into how our sector manages admissions, the benefit of understanding what our peers are doing, and an opportunity to share best practice. The EPC will also play a critical role in carefully evidencing HE engineering’s collective admissions behaviour in order to inform future policy responses in the interests of engineering.

Please be assured, there are no trick questions and we won’t share your information or publish any findings which might identify your university.

There are 9 sections to this survey:

1. About your engineering courses

  1. About your recruitment and admissions response to Covid-19
  2. About your response to government policy resulting from Covid-19
  3. About your admissions infrastructure
  4. About your undergraduate engineering admissions processes
  5. About your wider engineering admissions processes
  6. Evaluating your admissions processes
  7. The future of admissions
  8. Get involved

You’ll need to set aside about half an hour to complete the survey in full but you can skip any questions you don’t want to answer. You can also save your partially completed survey to come back to if you are short of time in a single sitting. Please complete whole sections in a sitting where possible. They survey is easiest to complete on a computer or tablet, but can be navigated on a phone if necessary. You can view all questions here before you begin. Please complete the survey here.

Principles of the paused OfS admissions consultation

Notwithstanding that no revised deadline for the OfS admissions consultation has yet been published and, in any event, the impact of Covid-19 may have an urgent and lasting effect on university admissions anyway, a summary of the original admissions review is provided below.

The consultation starts with the overarching principle that “all students, whatever their background, are able to choose between and select courses and providers matched to their needs, achievements and potential” plus a further set of proposed principles for a reliable, fair and inclusive admissions system (revised from the 2004 Schwartz review).

  • Applicants, their advisers and universities and colleges should find that the admissions system is transparent and that they have access to full information, presented in a way that enables applicants to make effective choices.
  • Applicants should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their achievement and potential with clear evidence. They should know how this evidence will be used by universities and colleges to select students.
  • Applicants should be assessed using methods that are reliable, fair and inclusive.
  • Applicants, their advisers and universities and colleges should experience a system that is professional in every respect and underpinned by appropriate structures and processes.
  • The public should have confidence in the admissions system.

Perceived admissions issues

Beyond these principles, there are a total of ten issues in scope:

  1. Advertised entry requirements versus actual entry requirements
  2. The use and accuracy of predicted grades in undergraduate admissions
  3. The use of assessment methods including personal statements and references, auditions, portfolio, admission tests, and interviews
  4. The role of contextual offers and contextual admissions
  5. The use of unconditional offers and “attainment offers”
  6. The use of offer incentives, inducements, and false marketing claims
  7. Applications which are made later in the admissions cycle, including the use of the UCAS Clearing system
  8. The transparency of the admissions process
  9. Applicants’ experience of the admissions system processes
  10. Stakeholder’ perceptions of the extent to which the English higher education admissions system is fair and effective.

The last three are predominantly aimed at applicants but within these they pick up on the following institutional activities:

  • The use of integrated foundation years
  • The use of admissions processes other than UCAS
  • The use of admissions processes where more than one university, college, or other organisation is involved, such as under a partnership arrangement or for an apprenticeship
  • The use of recruitment agents to recruit UK, EU and international students onto higher education courses

Somewhat off topic, the OfS is also seeking views on the use of higher education provider ‘league tables’.

Future options

OfS consultation includes three possible future admissions models:

Existing system with reforms

Possible reforms here include more transparency on entry requirements, getting rid of personal statements and/or references, and limiting the use of unconditional offers and incentives. Slightly more sweeping reforms, including getting shot of predicted grades entirely, and reforming clearing, are also mooted.

Post-qualification offers

Applying to full-time undergraduate admissions, this would be a halfway house between what we have currently – seeing applicants apply before their A levels but receiving offers after results are known. This would likely see some changes to dates for results or the start of the academic year for first years and would mean the end of conditional offers.

Post-qualification admissions

This would see students applying to full time undergraduate courses after their A level results are known, with a speedy response from providers seeing offers made and accepted before the (delayed) start of the academic year. Conditional offers would again disappear.

Although postgraduate and other direct entry applicants are largely ignored through much of the consultation, we are told that they are in scope and asked to consider whether aspects of a PQA might apply across the wider admissions system.

Survey for European engineering students in the UK

This is the student survey, for the staff survey, please click here.

Are you a non-UK European citizen? And an engineering STUDENT in a UK Higher Education Institution?

We want to hear from you. This survey is part of an EPC / UCL Engineering Education project funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, looking at the experiences and expectations of European nationals currently studying engineering in the United Kingdom.

Last year we interviewed European engineering students, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, who shared a variety of experiences, expectations and concerns about their future in the UK. When the interviews were run, the General Election (on the 12th December 2019) had not occurred. Since then, the UK has left the EU and is currently in a transition period until the end of 2020.

It would be enormously helpful to understand why you have chosen the UK to study engineering; what your experiences have been so far; and what are your future plans and expectations. We want to understand how UK universities can support your capacity to learn and succeed in your engineering studies and future career.

Link to the survey: https://is.gd/EUengineeringstudent

We hope that this survey is relevant to you, but we understand that you are frequently asked to complete online surveys. We would like to give you a £5 gift voucher for your time completing this survey. The survey is organized in 4 sections and it should take about 20 minutes to complete. If you wish to receive this voucher, please provide your student email (your university email address) at the end of the survey. The voucher will be sent by email no later than September.

All the information you provide will be kept anonymous and you will not be able to be identified from your responses. You can find more details in the Participant Information Sheet, which explains how we will analyse and store your data. The submission of your responses implies consent to participate in the research.

Although COVID-19 has been impacting the whole society in unprecedented ways, when completing the survey please focus on the impact of UK’s departure of the EU on your experiences and future plans.

Your voice matters! Thank you for participating in this critical research.

Dr Inês Direito, UCL Centre for Engineering Education

Contact: i.direito@ucl.ac.uk

Survey for European engineering academic staff in the UK

This is the staff survey, for the student survey, please click here.

Are you a non-UK European citizen? And an engineering academic working in a UK Higher Education Institution?

We want to hear from you. This survey is part of an EPC / UCL Engineering Education project funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, looking at the experiences and expectations of European nationals currently studying and working in engineering HE in the United Kingdom.

Last year we interviewed European engineering staff, who shared a variety of experiences, expectations and concerns about their future in the UK. When the interviews were run, the General Election (on the 12th December 2019) had not occurred. Since then, the UK has left the EU and is currently in a transition period until the end of 2020.

It would be enormously helpful to understand why you have chosen the UK to work as an engineering academic; what your experiences have been so far; what are your future plans and expectations; and how can the engineering education sector support you.

You are, therefore, invited to participate in the survey and / or share it with your European engineering academic colleagues.

Link to the survey: https://is.gd/EUengineeringAcademic

The survey is organized in 4 sections and it should take about 20 minutes to complete. All the information you provide will be kept anonymous and you will not be able to be identified from your responses. You can find more details in the Participant Information Sheet, which explains how we will analyse and store your data. The submission of your responses implies consent to participate in the research.

Although COVID-19 has been impacting the whole society in unprecedented ways, when completing the survey please focus on the impact of UK’s departure of the EU on your experiences and future plans.

Your voice matters! Thank you for participating in this critical research.

Dr Inês Direito, UCL Centre for Engineering Education

Contact: i.direito@ucl.ac.uk