The global site of the UK's leading magazine for automation, motion engineering and power transmission
14 April, 2024

Twitter link

£400m boost for engineering and science education

30 September, 2013

David Willetts, the British government minister for universities and science, has announced plans to invest £200m in new teaching facilities for science and engineering at UK universities. The Government funding will be matched by an equal contribution from the private sector, which could be in the form of gifts such as equipment.

“That makes £400m of investment so that students can be taught on the latest equipment ready for the world of work,” Willetts told the annual Conservative Party conference in Manchester. “That is our commitment to working with universities and business to help win the global race.”

Universities will bid for the funding, which will be available in 2015-2016, and preference will be given to departments with a strategy to encourage more women to study science and engineering subjects. At present, only 6% of the UK engineering workforce is female.

“Our aim is for Britain to be the best place in the world to do science,” Willetts said. “But to achieve that we must invest long-term and get the next generation doing science and engineering. That means girls as well as boys.

“We are not going to win in the global race if we waste the talents of half the British people,” he continued. “The proportion of engineers who are women is one of the lowest in Europe and we’ve got to raise our game. That is why we support the ambition to double the proportion of engineering degrees taken by women.”

To help achieve this goal, the Government is extending fee loans to part-time students of engineering, technology, and computer science who already have a degree in a different discipline. This is a partial relaxation of the rules that currently prevent part-time students who have previously studied for a degree from receiving fee support. Anyone wanting to retrain part-time in engineering, technology and computer science will now be able to obtain some tuition support. The change is expected to cost about £5m in 2015-2016.

Willetts: working with universities to help win the global race

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has welcomed Willetts’ plan to encourage more women and young people to enter engineering. “This £400m cash injection is a great start – and one that the IET has been seeking for some time,” says IET chief executive, Nigel Fine. “But it will take a concerted effort from the engineering industry as a whole to fix the problem and achieve a meaningful rise in the number of young people, and women in particular, who chose engineering as their career.

“Our 2013 skills survey found that over a third of employers are not taking any action to attract women into engineering, whilst the average age of the engineering workforce continues to increase, with 56% being over the age of 40,” he adds.

“We still need to do more to attract young people into the profession as they make a vital contribution to energy, transport, IT and so many other parts of the national infrastructure that everyone takes for granted,” says Fine. “I hope today’s announcement will add further impetus to attract the future generation of engineers.”

  • To view a digital copy of the latest issue of Drives & Controls, click here.

    To visit the digital library of past issues, click here

    To subscribe to the magazine, click here



"Do you think that robots create or destroy jobs?"



Most Read Articles