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Judge by results

Your news item about The Nottingham Trent University offering undergraduate sponsorship for civil engineering students (NCE 11 February) made good copy.

The Civil Engineering Department at Nottingham Trent currently has a student population of 540, including MSc, research and part time students, and an academic and full-time teaching and research staff complement of 28. Industry snaps up our students for work placements and our courses have one of the highest employability records in the UK.

Companies already provide sponsorship to many of our final year students, so our offer of sponsorship to incoming students is not unreasonable, indeed it will help to attract more of the most able 'A' level students into engineering rather than other professions. It will also help us to maintain the continuum of courses from HND to MSc level, together with our strong research base.

The Engineering Council has totally failed to arrest the continuing national fall in civil engineering applications, which so far this year is down 11% on last year's figure. The SARTOR regulations are likely to fragment higher education, probably to the detriment of our industry. We are already seeing skills shortages in some sectors of the industry, while civil engineering departments are beginning to close down.

We would wish to be judged by our output standards and the opinion of the industrialists who employ our graduates, not by the educational qualifications of our students on entry.

Professor RK Hawkins (F), The Nottingham Trent University, Faculty of Construction & the Environment, Burton St, Nottingham NG1 4BU.

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