Meeting the needs of industry: the drivers for change in engineering education

This paper examines the drivers for change as engineering departments develop ‘experience-led degrees’ that aim to equip students with the employability skills needed by industry. The term ‘experience-led engineering degree’ came from the Sainsbury Review and is taken to mean components of an engineering degree that develop industry related skills and which may also include industry interaction. It presents the relevant findings from a study on how engineering degrees meet the needs of industry (Engineering graduates for industry). The study used a case study approach to address the research question: “How can we enhance a sustainable world-class higher education engineering sector that meets the graduate recruitment needs of industry?” Six case studies were developed that describe examples of experience-led components in engineering departments across England. A number of key messages emerged from the analysis of the case studies and this paper looks in detail at the drivers that lead to change within universities and discusses how these vary according to institutional missions and priorities. The case studies demonstrated examples of both wide-scale radical change and incremental small-scale change, with all cases showing the vital role played by learning and teaching champions in driving forward change at a departmental level and the importance of support from senior management. It is also recognised that responsibility for change must be shared between universities, industry and the funding bodies. Barriers to change have been identified and recommendations are made as to how change can be facilitated.