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Lords call to increase number of engineering graduates

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has today called for immediate action to ensure enough young people study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Without this, it said, the government risks failing to meet its objectives to drive economic growth through education and hi-tech industries as identified in its Plan for Growth.

The report stresses the important role STEM postgraduates play in economic growth by driving innovation, undertaking research and providing entrepreneurship. However, the committee said that the government is failing to articulate how it will support postgraduate STEM provision in order to realise its plans for growth, explain to students the benefits of undertaking STEM postgraduate study or improve understanding about the demand for STEM postgraduates from industry.

The committee also identified a potential compound effect of the higher education reforms on postgraduate provision producing a 'triple whammy' effect due to higher fees, a lack of student finance, and a decline in the number of overseas students. The report calls for the establishment of an expert group, including substantial employer involvement, to formulate a strategy for STEM postgraduate education to help underpin the government's plans for growth.

Commenting, Lord Willis, chairman of the Lords sub-committee on higher education in STEM subjects, said: "The Government has made clear that education and hi-tech industry is vital to its plans to generate economic growth. However without a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce that will not be possible. It is vital therefore that higher education in the UK has a strong STEM sector and is able to produce the graduates and postgraduates hi-tech industries will demand.

Author
Laura Hopperton

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