Engineering uptake on the rise at UK universities

Applications to study engineering at UK universities have increased by seven per cent on the previous year for all domiciles and up by nine per cent for UK applicants.

The latest UCAS figures spell good news for the future of UK engineering with the sector currently battling a skills crisis. According to the IET's estimates, 87,000 new engineers will be required per year to meet the demands of the industry.

UCAS logged 114,160 applications for engineering courses throughout the UK this year, plus 95,250 for computer sciences. A total of 13,800 EU students opted for engineering courses - a seven per cent increase on the previous year - and 11,530 applied for computer sciences.

Verity O’Keefe, senior employment and skills policy advisor at EEF, said: “Today’s figures show that the number of applicants to study engineering has increased by seven per cent.

“This is a much needed upward tick for our sector which continues to cry out for young talent.  Manufacturing needs to find almost one million workers by 2020 simply to replace those retiring or leaving industry,” she said.

O’Keefe added: “If we are to meet this challenge head-on and provide the skilled workers that industry needs, the number of UK engineering graduates needs to increase significantly.  

“While today’s statistics show good progress is being made, applications are just the beginning. We must fix the ‘leaky’ engineering pipeline to ensure that today’s applicants will become tomorrow’s skilled engineers.”

Last month the UK government also confirmed that it was on track to fill higher apprenticeship starts across the country in a bid to get three million more people involved by 2020, as E&T previously reported. The provisional number of apprenticeship starts in engineering and manufacturing technologies is expected to be 65,800 from August 2014 to April 2015 in England.

Nick Boles, skills minister, said: “We listened to what employers told us they needed and have invested in apprenticeships to ensure their workforce have the quality skills needed to grow the business.”

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