24 July 2012
UK migration reform key to academic success
A new UK government committee report which calls for overseas students to be excluded from net migration figures has been backed by IChemE.
The report says that by including overseas students in migration figures, the UK is sending out the wrong signals to foreign talent.
Julia King, vice-chancellor of Aston University, told the committee that “we are highly dependent on overseas students to keep our engineering courses running and solvent.”
Justin Blades, IChemE deputy CEO, says: “The extra income derived from overseas students has helped fuel the growth in UK chemical engineering departments and consequently played a key role in helping more home-grown students study the subject.
“The number of students studying chemical engineering in the UK has doubled over the last decade and there are now a record number of students studying the subject. Throughout this period of growth, the proportion of overseas students each year has remained around one-third of the total intake,” adds Blades.
The report reads: “The jobs of the future will increasingly require people with the capabilities and skills that a STEM education provides. However, there appears to be a mismatch between the STEM graduates […] that higher education institutes supply, and the demand from employers."
The committee, which was served by former IChemE president Sir William Wakeham as special advisor, also claims that the quality of UK education – especially mathematics – needs to be improved at all levels. It says it was “shocked” by the poor maths abilities shown by many first-year students.
In a bid to boost the mathematics skills of all graduates, the lawmakers recommended that the subject be made compulsory until a student reaches 18. It is also recommended that the higher costs of studying the subjects – which generally require greater practical equipment and more direct tuition than most others – should be covered by government funding. This would lessen the cost to the student, and encourage more to take up engineering and science subjects.