The Royal Academy of Engineering, which promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the UK, welcomes the formation of the new Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) provided they work well together and do not lose the link between innovation and industry.

“The Prime Minister is right to focus on innovation and skills in a new Department,” says Philip Greenish, Chief Executive of the Academy. “Government’s vision of the UK as a ‘knowledge economy’ is under threat – there is already a shortage of high quality graduate engineers.”

“However, the new Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) must work with DBERR to maintain the crucial link between innovation and industry, which is vital for healthy technology transfer and business development.”

“And it is imperative that the new Department for Children, Schools and Families works closely with DIUS to ensure that children, right from primary school, see engineering and science as the key 21st century career choices. At a time when engineers are more in demand than ever to solve the twin challenges of energy sufficiency and climate change, we cannot allow our engineering expertise to stagnate while our competitors forge ahead.”

Between 1994 and 2004 entries to UK university engineering courses remained static at about 24,500 even though total university admissions went up by 40 per cent in the same period. The developing nations are producing record numbers of graduate engineers to fuel their technological and economic development - China and India produce over half a million engineers every year.

The Academy surveyed over 400 companies and 88 UK university engineering departments for its report Educating Engineers for the 21st Century, published last weekAlmost all agreed that industry will need more graduate engineers and that university engineering courses need redesigning for the modern economy. To achieve the type of engineering education tomorrow's engineers need, funding per university engineering student needs to increase by at least 50 per cent.

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

For more information please contact: Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering