25 May 2006
A study to assess whether higher education science and technology at UK universities and colleges will produce enough individuals with the skills to meet the needs of the economy in 2015 and beyond, has been launched today (Thursday 25 May 2006) by the Royal Society the UK national academy of science.
The study will look at a range of issues including the demand for individuals trained in science and technology, the skills of those going into and leaving higher education and the international competitiveness of the UK higher education system.
Professor Judith Howard, chair of the Royal Society higher education working group, said: "Our study will be asking fundamental questions about what we expect from higher education in terms of the skills, knowledge and experience of the science and technology graduates it produces and the way in which the universities, colleges and industry may be able to work together to achieve this.
"There has, for example, been much anecdotal evidence about students entering university without important science and maths-related skills and university leavers beginning their careers without other broader key skills. This study will build, for the first time, a comprehensive picture of what the situation really is.
"We will be looking at science at the various stages of higher education to identify the key issues facing us in terms of producing a workforce trained with the skills that will be essential if the UK is to continue to develop as a knowledge-based economy.
"The study will help put the debate over the closures of individual university departments in strategically important subjects such as chemistry in the broader context of the economy.
"This study is particularly timely given the changing context of higher education in the UK. The Bologna process - an EU agreement to harmonise higher education across Europe - and changes in the school curriculum, for example, mean that universities and higher education Institutions are taking a new look at how they deliver their courses."
The working group is expected to report its findings in the summer of 2007. Individuals and organisations that are interested in contributing evidence to this study should contact the Royal Society or see the website royalsociety.org/policy.