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Report shows need for more education about IP

Students do not see a strong correlation between intellectual property (IP) and commercial success, says a new report.

The report, published on 23 October by the National Union of Students (NUS) in partnership with the Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN) and the Intellectual Property Office, prompted the IET to warn that this lack of understanding could have a negative effect on the UK’s economy.

Graham Barber, IET principal policy advisor, represents the IET on IPAN. He said: “While we welcome this unique study, which for the very first time gets the view from students, one of the rather startling findings is that students fail to understand the link between IP and commercial success.

“If the UK is to continue to effectively compete, it is essential that we have an innovative engineering sector at its heart. Our future engineers and technicians must clearly understand the benefits and obligations of IP. In order to address this issue, a solid understanding of IP should be part of every engineering course. Ultimately, universities and accreditation bodies must work together to strengthen knowledge in this area.”

Rachel Wenstone, NUS vice-president (Higher Education), said: “Intellectual property is a significant issue for many UK students, not only for the successful completion of their academic course, but as importantly, to ensure students understand how ideas are recognised and protected, to prepare them for the growing world of enterprise and innovation beyond graduation.

“Improvements are clearly needed. Students want IP education to be integrated into their courses, and linked to their future career options.”

The report concludes only 40 per cent of students consider their current awareness of IP to be enough to support them in their future career.

The IET has worked with IPAN for a number of years and exclusively represents the engineering sector in helping to improve professional understanding of IP.

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