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Date of release: Tuesday, February 7, 2012
UK universities may struggle to supply the science and technology graduates that the nation needs unless changes are made to proposed reforms in Higher Education, according to Professor David Maguire, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich. He gave his views in evidence to the House of Lords Science & Technology Sub-Committee’s inquiry into Higher Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
“Impending reforms to university funding may inadvertently damage, rather than support, the nation’s vital ‘supply chain’ of STEM graduates,” said Professor Maguire, drawing on his particular perspective as both an employer and an educator of STEM graduates. Following a 20 year career in the private sector, most recently as Chief Scientist for a US-based global software company, he now leads a university with more than 6,000 STEM students and more than a century of experience in STEM education.
Arguing in support of four key policy changes, Professor Maguire predicted that the new financial incentive for universities to recruit students with the top A-level grades, will hit STEM subjects, which have fewer such highflyers. He called for greater funding to support the additional costs of teaching STEM subjects, saying that to increase the representation of students from lower socio-economic groups, additional widening participation funds should be made available.
Professor Maguire also made a case for ring-fencing capital funds for STEM disciplines, ensuring ongoing investment in specialist equipment and facilities. Lastly, he argued that the government should look again at the implications of its new policy to expand university education into Further Education colleges, which tend not to have the facilities or expertise to deliver strong practical STEM teaching in a research-rich environment.
Professor Maguire’s blog on his evidence to the Select Committee is available at: http://blogs.gre.ac.uk/vc/
For information about the House of Lords Select Committee inquiry: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/science-and-technology-sub-committee-i/