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How to stop student drop outs

The ICE responds to a report on the high level of engineering students dropping out of university.

ICE this week defended the profession's efforts to stop university students dropping out of their courses, after a parliamentary committee expressed concerns about students failing to complete their education.

"We are working closely with schools, universities and employers through our Regional Support Teams and the Graduate-Student Network (GSNet), to try and ensure that students are engaged with the industry throughout the course of their university education," said ICE director of membership David Lloyd-Roach.

Roach was responding to the parliamentary public accounts committee report Staying the course: the retention of students on higher education courses.

The report suggested that engineering, maths and computing students are more likely to drop out than their counterparts in other faculties.

The first year continuation rate in mathematical science, computing and engineering subjects was found to be "three percentage points below the national average for all subjects".

The report underlined the strategic importance of these subjects to the nation's economic development, calling on universities to develop strong outreach programmes with schools. The report suggested "running summer schools for prospective students in these subjects and offering mentoring to help prepare students so that they are encouraged to apply and more likely to succeed."

Prospective students should be aware of what to expect on their course, and the opportunities after they graduate.

Other initiatives such as "free student membership and QUEST(Queen's Jubilee Scholarship Trust) also contribute to retaining students and opening their eyes up to the exciting opportunities available in the profession," said Lloyd-Roach.

Around 28,000 full-time and 87,000 part-time students who started first-degree courses in 2004/05 were no longer in higher education a year later. Among the full-time students, 91.6% entered a second year of study, and 78.1% were expected to complete. There has been little improvement in retention since 2001/02, though participation in higher education has increased from around 40% to nearly 43% of 18-30 year olds.

- The ICE and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) are collaborating on a new award for Excellent Engineers working with Education in London; the E3 Award. Companies and individuals striving to promote engineering within schools, colleges and universities are encouraged to apply before 3 March 2008 to be in with a chance of receiving this accolade.

The E3 Awards will be presented at the ICE/IMechE Joint London Region Dinner on 3 April 2008 at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, London.

To enter or to find out more contact Claire Maycock c_maycock@imeche.org

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