Manufacturers oppose college fees hike

UK
manufacturers are warning universities against charging higher fees for science
and engineering degrees simply because they are more expensive to deliver.

Responding
to the Government’s consultation on the future of higher education, the Engineering
Employers’ Federation (EEF) and the Sector Skills Council for Science,
Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies (SEMTA) said that if science and
engineering courses are made more expensive, it could have a negative impact on
the number of students studying these subjects at a time when they have already
shown a significant fall over the past decade. This would only serve to
increase skills shortages and hamper industry and government attempts to
improve UK productivity.

However,
if universities were to adopt a ‘market-led’ approach then they would charge
higher fees for those courses which were in most demand and lower fees for
courses which were in less demand. EEF and SEMTA believe this would encourage a
rebalancing of entrants away from some courses towards science and engineering.

Janet
Berkman EEF’s head of education and skills said: “Differential fees for higher
education must not result in engineering, science and technology courses
costing students more than degrees in other subjects simply because they are
more expensive to operate. This would lead to a reduction in the number of
suitably qualified employees for industry and damage the UK economy in the
longer term.

“If
students are faced with a choice between a science subject costing them £3,000
a year, and an arts/humanities degree costing less, they may decide to avoid
the larger debt, despite the greater marketability of a science/engineering
degree.”

By Quentin Reade

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