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Civils students drop by a third in five years

NEWS

THE CIVIL engineering industry faces a 'severe skills shortage' unless the ICE withdraws from the Engineering Council's Standards and Routes to Registration reforms, a senior academic warned this week.

Portsmouth University's head of civil engineering Professor Brian Lee said the new 18/24 point A level requirements for BEng and MEng civil engineering applicants were set to 'threaten the whole of our industry'.

Reacting to figures showing a 33 per cent slump in entry to civil engineering courses from 1994 to 1998 he said: 'The alarming decline in entrants to the civil engineering profession will be made significantly worse by the introduction of SARTOR . . . It is my view that our industry cannot tolerate such a decline in numbers and that the resulting skills shortage will have a profound effect on the ability of our industry to remain competitive.'

Portsmouth was one of several universities to receive a circular letter recently on 'Recruitment to Engineering' from Higher Education Funding Council chief executive Brian Fender.

The letter shows that entry to civil engineering courses has dropped 33 per cent from 2,752 in 1994 to 1,820 in 1998. This compares with a fall of 17 percent in entries to electronic engineering courses and just 5.5 percent in mechanical engineering. The statistics follow publication of Universities and Colleges Admissions Services figures showing applications to civil engin- eering courses down by 11.1 percent this year (NCE 25 February).

ICE director of professional development Richard Larcombe would not be drawn on Lee's comments or the figures published by the HEFC. He said: 'Until we have had a good look at these figures we don't want to comment.'

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