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Attracting Students to Engineering HEFCE’s Approach to Strategic and Vulnerable Subjects

Attracting Students to Engineering HEFCE’s Approach to Strategic and Vulnerable Subjects Fiona Hoban 14 December 2005. Advice to Secretary of State.

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Attracting Students to Engineering HEFCE’s Approach to Strategic and Vulnerable Subjects

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  1. Attracting Students to EngineeringHEFCE’s Approach to Strategic and Vulnerable Subjects Fiona Hoban 14 December 2005

  2. Advice to Secretary of State • Secretary of State request in 2004. Advice sought on whether there are any HE subjects or courses of national importance, where intervention would be appropriate to enable them to be available, and the types of intervention that could be considered • Advisory Group chaired by Professor Sir Gareth Roberts • Considered principles to define strategically important and vulnerable subjects in HE • Set out the principles to focus further interventions • Final report: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/2005/05_24

  3. Advisory Group’s recommendations for HEFCE • We have a healthy and dynamic HE system in this country • Because of that HEFCE should guard against an overly interventionist role in the market • But HEFCE are able to take an overall view of the system.

  4. Ground rules for future HEFCE intervention • Funding body without planning powers • Will need to work with the intended and unintended consequences of the (quasi) market from 2006 • Working in collaboration with other agencies • Must look holistically- supply-side answers will not solve demand-side problems.

  5. Strategic and vulnerable subjects • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics • Area studies and related minority languages • Modern foreign languages • Land-based studies • Quantitative social science

  6. Data • July 2005: HEFCE published analysis based on HESES definitions. We looked at time series in FTE numbers for all undergraduate students by HESA cost centre by fee status 1999-00 to 2003-04 http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/2005/05_24/ (data annex tables 1 and 2) • Numbers relate to student activity at modular level, not students on named degrees • Analysis also available by student headcount (qualification aim) but not published due to coding concerns • Data can be provided to funded STEM projects.

  7. Engineering (cost centre) data showed • Declining activity in: chemical engineering; mineral, metallurgy and materials engineering • Steady or slightly declining activity in: civil engineering, general engineering and mechanical, aero and production engineering • Increasing activity in: computer software engineering; electrical, electronic and computer engineering • BUT may need to consider qualification aim to get full picture of vulnerability.

  8. Widening Participation • RAE have identified that there is a need to both widen and increase participation • Engineering undergraduates tend to be a homogenous group: high proportion of males; white, Chinese or Indian; ‘sons of engineers’ • London Engineering Project will work in low participation neighbourhoods and has four target groups that are currently under-represented in engineering HE: • Women (only 14%) Digest of Engineering Statistics • Certain minority ethnic students • students from families where there is no experience of HE • adult learners.

  9. Raising demand • Projects to raise attainment and aspiration, and to make courses more attractive • Need to consider how to increase and widen participation • Current projects: • Chemistry: the Next Generation • RAISE • London Engineering Project • Proposed projects in mathematics, computing, and physics.

  10. HEFCE funded projects must show: • Commitment to collaborative partnership e.g. Subject Centres, Action on Access, Aimhigher, CETLs, RDAs, other STEM-based initiatives • Clear demonstration of sector engagement • Evidence-based approach to interventions • Consideration of regional differences • Clear framework for monitoring and evaluation • Appropriate governance and risk management • Sustainability and evidence of long term planning.

  11. Aimhigher Engineering Projects A few examples: • Aimhigher South West Engineering in Gloucestershire:complete set of vocational pathways IAG materials for schools and colleges • Aimhigher Taster Days in Engineering, e.g. UMIST and The University of Manchester • Aimhigher East Midlands Engineering 3 day residential.

  12. The Future • Strong HEFCE commitment to strategic and vulnerable subjects: • New strategic plan 2006-2011 • Continued involvement in STEM Cross-cutting Review led by the DfES and DTI • Spending review- evidence needed. • Collaborative meeting of all STEM projects in 6 months time • Likely STEM conference in summer 2006.

  13. Contacts Fiona Hoban, f.hoban@hefce.ac.uk John Rushforth, j.rushforth@hefce.ac.uk Jennifer Allen, j.allen@hefce.ac.uk

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