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The other day I got the opportunity to read the ICE's Annual Review 2004 and on the face of it everything in the garden is rosy with 802 new members.

However, I was looking for something that had concerned me last year. There it was on the penultimate page - the actual distribution of membership.

Over the last few years and certainly over the last three covered by the review, student membership is falling by an incredible 1,000 every year: When you have only 6,000 members there are very few years remaining before we hit zero.

Hopefully those 803 new members may be made up of missing students, but the trend is clearly there.

The profession is no longer attractive to new recruits.

Engineering students and graduates with good degrees would rather join a city bank pushing spreadsheets around than setting out sewers on a wet site.

The profession will survive, as there will always be a need for civil engineers, but the Institution's situation is less certain, as it needs this constant stream of new blood to maintain the membership.

D. Walters, (M), virtualworlds@onetel. com

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