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Engineers plea for fee exemption

ICE news

ENGINEERS ARE to lobby the UK government for permission to let civil engineers reclaim their university tuition fees from the Department of Trade & Industry They want civil engineering students exempt from plans to let universities charge up to ú3,000 per year in tuition fees contained in a White Paper published by education secretary Charles Clarke.

Under the proposals, universities will be entitled to set their own fees for individual courses from 2006. Fees will be capped at ú3,000 for the whole of the next parliament, with payment deferred until after graduation.

The government expects students to pay more for courses that offer good employment prospects, meaning that engineering courses are likely to charge more than arts and language courses.

The ICE and the Institution of Structural Engineers plan to target science minister Lord Sainsbury and urge him to push for legislation allowing civils undergraduates to reclaim their tuition fees.

Those studying for careers in healthcare and teaching can already reclaim their fees. Without such legislation the ICE fears many will be put off going into civil engineering by the fears of accumulating huge debts.

Clarke's White Paper acknowledges the problems of recruitment in engineering. But it states that it expects employers 'to consider schemes to make sure they can bring through the graduates they need'.

Most civil engineering faculties have refused to reveal their plans, but it is believed that if the biggest universities chose to charge the full ú3,000 most would follow.

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