Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Royal Academy of Engineering


  1.  The Royal Academy comprises the UK's most eminent engineers of all disciplines. It seeks to contribute to the public good by promoting excellence in engineering.

  2.  The Academy's 1,270 Fellows are drawn from all branches of the engineering profession, allowing The Academy to take a uniquely multi-disciplinary approach to modern engineering problems.

  3.  Save for basic travel expenses, Fellows receive no formal remuneration for their contribution to The Academy's activities. For many Fellows, their involvement with The Academy provides an opportunity to "put something back" for the good of the wider engineering sector.

  4.  The Academy's activities include substantial financial support for research chairs and fellowships, an extensive education programme, visiting professorships and industrial secondments. It provides expert advice on engineering matters to government and other bodies and awards the UK's premier annual prize for innovation in engineering, the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award.

  5.  It has always maintained strong relationships with Parliament through Select Committees, individual Members, the Associate Parliamentary Engineering Group and, prior to its transfer to Parliament, through hosting the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).

  6.  Modern engineering includes much more than the "traditional" engineering disciplines such as mechanical and civil engineering. The Academy's Fellows include experts in software engineering, biomedical engineering, nanotechnology and many other disciplines at the forefront of technological advance. The Fellows, by their leadership in all areas of engineering, are responsible for many of the advances enjoyed by society at large.


  7.  The Royal Academy of Engineering comprises the UK's most eminent engineers. They are drawn from all disciplines, from civil and mechanical engineering to software engineering, biomedical engineering and nanotechnology. Wherever possible we bring together engineers from academia and industry to address the engineering issues of the day.

  8.  Engineering touches every aspect of human activity: work, leisure, health and education. In information technology, medicine and transport (to give just a few examples) engineering advances are making fundamental changes to the way we live our lives.

  9.  The Academy's priorities include: supporting engineering research and encouraging others to recognise its importance to the national economy; and working more closely with Government and Parliament. An extensive educational programme, directed at schools and undergraduates, seeks to raise the profile and prestige of engineering as a career.

  10.  Since its establishment in 1976 The Academy has grown and developed not only in terms of the number of Fellows but also in the scale and diversity of its activities. To reflect its maturity and ability to make a real difference The Academy has now established a "Facing Out" initiative to help the organisation develop into a genuinely outward-facing organisation with a strong public profile.

  11.  The Academy contributes to a wide range of Government consultations and Select Committee inquiries. We now wish to develop this into a much closer relationship, establishing The Academy as the principal advisers to Government and Parliament on engineering matters.

  12.  Support for engineering research is central to The Academy's activities. The Academy is now proposing two further research support programmes. First, The Academy would like to create a limited number of fully funded Research Chairs for outstanding individuals. Second, we would like to develop international research exchanges for senior academics.

  13.  The Academy recognises that it has a responsibility to encourage more women to enter the engineering profession and to pursue the career to the senior levels at which they would become candidates for Fellowship of The Academy. Although there is a great deal of progress to be made, there are encouraging signs in the male-female participation rates for some of our schemes aimed at young engineers.

  14.  Although Grant-in-Aid of £4.27 million accounts for just 30 per cent of The Academy's total income, it performs a crucial pump-priming role. For every £1 of public money that The Academy disburses, we raise roughly £2 from other sources. Without Grant-in-Aid, The Academy would not have the leverage to attract this further finance from other sources.



  15.  The Academy has a solid track record of advising Government and Parliament on engineering matters.

  16.  We contribute to a wide range of Government consultations and Select Committee inquiries. These contributions are based on our own consultation with those Fellows who have relevant expertise. For example, in recent months we have responded to the following consultations:

    —  Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) energy review;

    —  DTLR and House of Commons Procedure Select Committee consultations on new parliamentary procedures for major infrastructure projects; and

    —  Foresight Directorate's review of the Foresight Programme.

  17.  We produce reports on issues where our expertise can make a difference.

    —  Our report on Doctoral Level Research Students in Engineering, published in February 2002, warned that Britain's universities cannot recruit enough high-quality, UK-domiciled engineering research students to drive future innovation.

    —  Almost all of the recommendations of our report on the safety of ro-ro ferries in 1995 were adopted by Government and, later, by the International Maritime Organisation. As a result, all ro-ro ferries, including those built since 1990, were modified to increase safety for the travelling public.

  18.  The Academy's secretariat assembles policy positions by a rigorous process of consultation with The Academy's Fellows. Preparation of The Academy's expert advice to Government, Select Committees and other official bodies is compatible with the Government guidelines on the provision of scientific advice. The Academy also has its own guidelines for internal use.

UK Focus for Biomedical Engineering

  19.  The Academy runs the UK Focus for Biomedical Engineering, which assists developments in policy and co-ordinates activities across this important field. In addition to representatives drawn from several professional engineering institutions active in the biomedical field, the UK Focus Executive Committee includes representation from the Research Councils, industry and the medical world.

Associate Parliamentary Engineering Group (APEG)

  20.  The Academy provides the secretariat and support for APEG, which holds meetings throughout the year at the House of Commons. APEG acts as a forum for the exchange of ideas between parliamentarians and those involved in the full spectrum of engineering activity.


  21.  Recruiting more young people into creative and innovative engineering is crucial for Britain's future economic success. Unless we are successful in encouraging more young people to take science and mathematics at "A" Level, to read engineering as undergraduates and to stay in engineering at postgraduate and professional levels, then we will have fewer people to develop the innovations of the future.

  22.  To this end, The Academy undertakes a wide range of educational activities at every level from secondary school to university.

  23.  The BEST programme, partly funded by the Gatsby Foundation, covers a number of schemes from the age of 13 to Chartered Engineer status.


  24.  The schemes include:

    —  the Smallpeice Engineering Experience scheme for Year nine pupils (age 13-14) and the Smallpeice Engineering Skills and Careers scheme for Year 10 (age 14-15);

    —  the Engineering Education Scheme (EES), which involves sixth-formers in tackling a real-life engineering project with a local employer;

    —  Headstart, which enables sixth-formers to spend four days at a university engineering faculty. 800 students took part at 20 universities in 2001; and

    —  Year in Industry, which enables high-calibre students to gain experience through top-quality work placements.


  25.  The BEST undergraduate programme enhances undergraduates' development and helps to encourage them towards a career in engineering and industry:

    —  Engineering Leadership Awards offer a range of training, personal development and high-quality vacation work. Around 30 students are selected each year.


  26.  The Academy runs a number of schemes for postgraduates:

    —  Up to 15 highly motivated Chartered Engineers are funded each year for full-time MBAs at business schools abroad through the Sainsbury Management Fellowships in Engineering.

    —  65 industrial engineers received grants towards the cost of part-time study courses relating to new technology in 2001. These grants are funded by the Panasonic Trust, which is administered by The Academy. All are co-sponsored by their employer. The Academy hopes to increase the number of grants to 100 per year.

International Travel Grants

  27.  International Travel Grants enable doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers and Chartered Engineers to make study visits overseas. 555 awards were made in 2001, totalling £332,000.

Visiting Professorships

  28.  Two Visiting Professorship schemes offer a valuable bridge between academic and industrial engineering. The objective is for experienced engineers from industry to help to strengthen the undergraduate engineering syllabus. The Academy aims to act as seed-corn provider, establishing schemes on a self-sustaining basis and then redirecting funds towards new Visiting Professorship initiatives.

    —  We are now in the twelfth year of our Visiting Professors in Principles of Engineering Design scheme. This currently supports 126 visiting professors in 46 universities.

    —  Each year The Academy appoints five engineers from industry to be Visiting Professors in Engineering Design for Sustainable Development. This scheme is now in its third year. The Academy aims to raise the total number of appointments to 25 by 2003-04.

    —  The Academy's Management Plan sets out proposals to establish Visiting Professorships in the Design of Integrated Engineering Systems from 2004-05. Further proposals for the future development of the Visiting Professorship scheme are set out below under "Our Vision for the Academy's Future".


  29.  The Academy appoints, finances and monitors a wide range of engineering research positions. Although Grant-in-Aid comprises an important element in the funding of these schemes, the Academy is proud of its success in using the Grant-in-Aid as pump-priming finance that serves to attract additional support from industry and other sources.

  30.  One of The Academy's Personal Research Chairs provides a good example. In addition to £20,000 of Grant-in-Aid, The Academy was also able to secure £40,000 of support for the position from a major industrial company. Once in post, the Professor concerned succeeded in attracting almost £400,000 of additional funding for his team's activities from charitable, business and academic sources. He built up a research team of 22 people

  31.  Two points emerge from this and many similar cases: first, The Academy is successful in adding value to Grant-in-Aid; and second, although Grant-in-Aid frequently comprises only a modest proportion of the overall spend on a particular position, its pump-priming role is essential—without it, The Academy would not have the leverage to attract further finance from other sources.

Personal Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellowships

  32.  The Academy regards these as flagship schemes that make a central contribution to the development of engineering knowledge and ideas. The Personal Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellowships bring together a co-sponsor company, a researcher and a higher education institution to enable research to be carried out in a field of particular interest to the company.

  33.  Seven new Personal Research Chair appointments were made in 2001. The normal term of a Personal Research Chair is five years.

  34.  Three new Senior Research Fellowships were appointed in 2001, two for two years and one for five years.

  35.  The combined total of Personal Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellowships will rise to 33 in 2003-04.

Research Chairs in Innovative Manufacturing

  36.  The Academy and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are joint sponsors of these chairs. Two new appointments, both for five years, were made in 2001.

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

  37.  The Academy awards five post-doctoral research fellowships each year. The fellowships provide five years of full funding. Demand exceeds fellowships available by a ratio of 20 to one.

  38.  The scheme provides crucial support for some of Britain's most talented young engineering researchers. The award-holders themselves benefit from association with the Academy's reputation for excellence, which opens doors to further funding and a network of contacts throughout academia and industry.

Engineering Foresight Awards

  39.  The Engineering Foresight Awards allow academic and industrial researchers to spend time (usually between three and 12 months) in an overseas centre of excellence. In the current year, 13 engineers have taken up secondments under this scheme.

Industrial Secondment Scheme

  40.  The Industrial Secondment Scheme allows engineering lecturers to strengthen their awareness of the latest industrial techniques by spending time (usually three to six months) on secondment to an industrial company of their choice.

  41.  The scheme stimulates lecturers to include the latest thinking in their undergraduate course content and invariably leads to further beneficial contacts between company and university.

  42.  The Academy pays for the cost of employing a replacement lecturer to cover the secondee's teaching duties.

  43.  The Academy's objective is to increase the annual number of secondments to 25 by 2003-04.

Review and assessment

  44.  The Academy's mission is to promote excellence in engineering, and this approach suffuses every post or prize awarded by the Academy. The Academy operates rigorous procedures to ensure that its awards are fairly made and carefully monitored.

  45.  Although the process varies according to the dictates of the particular scheme, common elements include: interview of candidates by Fellows; independent peer review of candidates' proposals; the appointment of Fellows as mentors; in-post monitoring by Fellows; and submission of reports during and at the end of the post.

  46.  Even in the case of one of The Academy's more modest schemes—the International Travel Grants (which have an average value of just £600 per award), a Fellow with specialist knowledge of the field concerned is assigned to assess each application and award holders are required to submit a report on their return to the UK. The same Fellow who conducted the initial assessment then evaluates the report and a "quality factor" is awarded. This allows The Academy to monitor the quality of the scheme from year to year.

  47.  The process of selection and assessment is even more rigorous for major positions such as a Personal Research Chairs. When a proposal for a new Chair is received, the response will be led by one of the Academy's four Lead Assessors for Research, who takes expert advice from three independent Fellows. The same individuals would then be involved in the selection procedure for the eventual incumbent. Once an appointment is made, another Fellow would be appointed as mentor on behalf of the Academy. Annual reports and a formal meeting of all interested parties would be required detailing publications made and research findings achieved.

  48.  These procedures are essential in order to ensure that Grant-in-Aid is distributed with the transparency and openness demanded by the audit requirements of the Office of Science and Technology.


  49.  The range of awards and medals funded by The Academy's own investments recognise excellence in engineering. They include the following:

    —  The Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award is Britain's premier engineering prize, given annually for the most outstanding innovation. The award is of £50,000 plus a gold medal. In 2001, the MacRobert Award went to Sensaura Ltd, for their new three-dimensional audio technology system, which is capable of reproducing sounds all around the listener.

    —  The Prince Philip Medal is awarded periodically to an engineer of any nationality who has made an exceptional contribution to engineering. In 2001 it was awarded to Philip Ruffles CBE RDI FREng FRS, former Engineering and Technology Director of Rolls-Royce plc, in recognition of his exceptional contribution to engineering and the aero engine industry.

    —  The Sir Frank Whittle Medal recognises sustained and outstanding engineering achievement that contributes to the well-being of the nation. In 2001, it was awarded to Prof Tim Berners-Lee OBE FREng FRS, for creating the World Wide Web.

  50.  Each award is judged by an Evaluation Committee of Fellows who are leaders in their fields. Applications are rigorously assessed against a defined set of criteria. For example, in the case of the MacRobert Award, the Committee members look for world-leading engineering developments that demonstrate innovation, successful commercial exploitation and benefit to the community.

  51.  As with every other Academy scheme, there is completely open competition for The Academy's awards. Each scheme is widely advertised on The Academy's website, in the engineering press and by circulation of publicity material within the industry. The Academy maintains extensive databases for this specific purpose.

  52.  In the case of the MacRobert Award, the call for entries is circulated to around 7,000 individuals—Fellows, senior industrialists, academics and trade associations.

Events and Publications

Public lectures

  53.  The Academy organises major public lectures on engineering-related topics of wide interest. These events, which are open to all, typically attract audiences of 2-300, including Fellows, other engineering professionals, media, politicians and other interested individuals:

    —  Recent lecturers have included: the Transport Commissioner for London, Robert Kiley, on "Engineering London's Future"; Robert Benaim FREng on "Engineering and Architecture", and Professor John Uff QC FREng on "Engineering Ethics: do engineers have a duty to the public?".


  54.  The Academy organises major conferences, such as the annual conference of the UK Focus for Biomedical Engineering. The 2002 Conference, to be held on 29 April, will look at "Technology Transfer in Biomedical Engineering".

Technical briefings

  55.  The Academy organises a series of Technical Briefing events throughout the year. These are held at The Academy's offices and are open to Fellows and invited guests only. Conducted under Chatham House rules, they allow Fellows to be briefed on the latest developments by industry experts.

    —  Recent Technical Briefings have looked at: "Learning from Accidents", and "The Future of Motor Transport".


  56.  The Academy's principal publication is Ingenia, a quarterly magazine. Articles cover a broad range of topics and issues from IT and communications to energy, innovative design, infrastructure, education and training. The publication is aimed at both specialists and non-specialists with an interest in engineering, whether in business, industry, academia, government or media:

    —  Ingenia is circulated to some 5,500 readers. These include Fellows of The Academy, other senior engineers in industry and academia, MPs and senior civil servants involved in engineering issues. It is also read by those developing and educating engineers—university vice-chancellors and academic staff, and by those in financial and political areas such as bankers, analysts, venture capitalists and policy makers responsible for engineering activities that affect economic growth, social welfare, sustainable development and the environment.


  57.  Some commentators remain uncertain about how the Royal Academy of Engineering relates to the individual engineering institutions and, in particular, to the new Engineering and Technology Board (ETB). The Academy's role is clear—to promote excellence in engineering. It does so through a Fellowship that comprises the most distinguished engineers in the UK.

  58.  Unlike the individual engineering institutions, the Royal Academy of Engineering draws its Fellows from across the full range of engineering disciplines, from chemical engineering to biomedical engineering, including software engineering and nanotechnology. We are able to bring a uniquely multidisciplinary approach when commenting on engineering issues, especially when the general public is involved.

The Engineering and Technology Board

  59.  The ETB has been set up to be the champion of the wider engineering and technology community in the UK, including many who practise engineering outside the organised network of the established engineering institutions.

  60.  Research conducted by The Academy found that there are at least two million highly skilled people employed in engineering or technological businesses, but only 600,000 belong to the 36 professional engineering institutions. The ETB seeks to represent all two million involved in engineering or technology.

The individual engineering institutions

  61.  The 36 Engineering Institutions (eg the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institution of Civil Engineers) draw their members from specific branches of engineering. They have regard to their members' personal requirements, for example, in relation to continuing professional development.

  62.  Most of the senior figures in the major engineering institutions are also Fellows of The Academy.

The network of engineering institutions

  63.  Dr Robert Hawley FREng (a prime mover in the creation of the ETB) has given what is perhaps the best summary of the roles of the various engineering organisations:

    "The Royal Academy of Engineering is about engineering and engineering excellence.

    The engineering institutions are about the needs and development of individual engineers.

    The New Regulatory Board is about the setting, auditing and regulating of standards for professional engineers.

    And the ETB is about the needs and promotion of the wider engineering and technology community".[11]


Election of Fellows

  64.  Existing Fellows propose prospective new Fellows of The Academy. All applications go before a Membership Committee and are then put to a vote at the AGM. All Fellows are entitled to attend and vote at the AGM.

  65.  Fellows pay an annual subscription of £160. There is also a one-off joining fee of £250.

  66.  Although The Academy's procedures for electing Fellows and Council are operated in a fair and proper manner, we recognise the importance of making them more transparent. We are working with the Electoral Reform Society to strengthen our procedures for electing Council and Officers.

  67.  A statistical breakdown of The Academy's Fellows is given at Annex 2.

Women Fellows

  68.  The Academy is acutely aware of the very low numbers of women in its own ranks and in engineering in general. Of The Academy's 1,270 Fellows, 15 are women. As the Royal Academy of Engineering, we recognise that we have a responsibility to encourage more women into the profession.

  69.  There is no question of The Academy discriminating against women in the election process. There are simply very few women at senior levels of the engineering profession. The number of senior women in engineering today reflects the low numbers who entered the profession 20 or 30 years ago and higher drop-out rates due to family and other commitments.

  70.  There are some modest reasons for optimism. Of our 34 Fellows under the age of 50, 20 per cent are women. Although we would like to see this figure higher, it is better than the male-female ratio for undergraduate level engineering courses (14 per cent).

  71.  Many of our educational schemes are helping to bring women into engineering. Women are much better represented on our schemes than they are in the overall figures for engineering undergraduates. To give some examples:

    —  Over 5,000 young people take part in our nationwide Best engineering education programme each year. Over 25 per cent are female (almost double the current university entry rate), which bodes well for the future of women in engineering.

    —  The Academy's Panasonic Trust Fellowship Scheme provides grants of £7,000 each to enable graduate engineers to undertake full-time Masters courses. In 2001, four of the five award-winners were women. Of the 34 original applications, 28 were from men and six from women.

    —  Of applications for The Academy's International Travel Grant Scheme in 2001, 72 per cent were male and 28 per cent female—double the percentage of women entering university as engineering or technology undergraduates.

    —  In the latest round of our Post-doctoral Research Fellowships scheme, 20 per cent of applicants were women, but women took two of the five fellowships awarded.

Ethnic origin of Fellows

  72.  The Academy does not collect statistics on the ethnic origin of its Fellows. Fellows have to be British citizens, except for those elected as foreign members.


  73.  Although widely known and respected at senior levels in the engineering world, The Academy is anxious to make a greater impact on public policy-making and to do more to raise the profile and prestige of engineering as a career.

  74.  The Academy already has plans to expand a number of its activities under the Management Plan agreed with the Office of Science and Technology for the period up to 2003-04.

  75.  This section goes beyond the plans already agreed. It sets out some thoughts on how we would like to achieve a step-change in The Academy's activities—and on how we would like Government to help us to make a bigger contribution to the public good. It deliberately takes no account of cost implications. It is intended to demonstrate the extent of The Academy's ambition, rather than the limitations of our revenue stream.

  76.  Two of these "ideas for the future" (Research Chairs and International Research Exchanges) are briefly outlined in The Academy's Management Plan, with indicative costings for 2004-05 onwards attached. Others are set out for the first time in this evidence.

Leading Advisers to Government and Parliament

A greater impact on public policy-making

  77.  The Academy has the expertise to make a much greater contribution to public policy-making. In this we seek to emulate the relationship that the National Academy of Engineering in Washington has with Congress and the US Government.

  78.  Instead of simply responding to consultations and producing our own reports, we would like to work as the Government's principal advisers on engineering matters. The breadth of expertise among The Academy's Fellows means that on almost any engineering issue The Academy can call on national or world experts.

  79.  We should like to place The Academy at the disposal of Ministers and parliamentarians, with Fellows and staff of The Academy ready to fulfil the following roles:

    —  Fellows can be made available as specialist advisers to Select Committees or as expert witnesses to appear before Select Committees

    —  The Government's proposal for new parliamentary procedures for handling major infrastructure projects provides a perfect example of how The Academy can make a contribution. If, as seems reasonably likely, Parliament decides to use a Committee process to scrutinise such projects, The Academy would be ideally placed to provide the technical assistance that Members would find invaluable.

    —  The Academy can organise and host seminars bringing together experts, civil servants and politicians, under Chatham House rules if necessary. For example, we held a very successful meeting in June 2001 on the Government's early plans for R&D tax credits for larger companies, involving Fellows, officials from HM Treasury, the Inland Revenue and the DTI, tax lawyers and business leaders. We would be pleased to organise many more such occasions—if the Government would find it helpful.

    —  The Academy can be commissioned to produce reports to Ministers or Government departments on specific engineering topics. For example, The Academy is preparing an engineering critique of the recent PIU report on energy policy for the Energy Minister, Brian Wilson MP. Although The Academy has undertaken projects of this kind from time to time in the past, we have the expertise to tackle more issues (although staffing and financial resources are limited at present).

"Facing Out"

  80.  Since its establishment in 1976 The Academy has grown and developed not only in terms of the number of Fellows but also in the scale and diversity of its activities. To reflect its maturity and ability to make a real difference The Academy has now established a "Facing Out" initiative to help the organisation develop into a genuinely outward-facing organisation with a strong public profile.

  81.  "Facing Out" is a logical next step in The Academy's development. It will enable The Academy to generate debate on engineering issues and highlight the economic importance of the sector. The project is being driven by an advisory group of Fellows, journalists and politicians.

  82.  As a first step, The Academy has established a database of Fellows willing to speak to the media on a range of engineering topics; this will run on the Academy web site, which has itself been extensively modernised to emphasise events of current interest.

  83.  An Academy Awards event has also been instigated in order to showcase more effectively the achievements of our annual medallists. Presentation of Britain's biggest engineering prize, the £50,000 MacRobert Award, takes place in November and involves the winner in establishing an exhibition at the Science Museum.

Research Chairs

  84.  The Academy would like to create a limited number of independent and fully funded RAEng Research Chairs for outstanding individuals. Such appointments would be for up to ten years, enabling the individual to concentrate on research with the added attraction of considerable freedom to establish exceptional centres of research excellence. These would complement the Academy's existing programme of research chairs, which are jointly funded by industry.

  85.  The Academy would look to make 10 appointments over a period of 10 years. This would require an increase in grant-in-aid of £120,000 in 2004-05, rising to £221,000 in 2005-06.

International Research Exchanges

  86.  The Academy would like to develop international research exchanges for senior academics. Flexible in duration, these would encourage top-level engineering researchers to visit overseas centres of excellence and vice versa, enabling the enhancement of international networks of excellence.

  87.  The Academy would look to establish the scheme in 2004-05 with 10 awards, and then increase to 30 awards in 2007-08. This would require extra grant-in-aid of £220,000 in 2004-05, rising to £421,000 in 2005-06.

More support for specialist schools

  88.  Too many young people turn away from academic subjects such as mathematics and physics at an early stage in their school careers. These subjects are fundamental to an engineering education.

  89.  If we wish to encourage more young people to pursue an engineering career, then we need to tackle these problems in the early years of secondary education.

  90.  The Academy is particularly looking to support higher quality teaching and teachers and better equipment and facilities, with an emphasis on developing best practice through a network of specialist schools.

  91.  Together with the Engineering and Marine Training Authority, the Engineering Employers' Federation, the Engineering Council and other bodies, The Academy has agreed to sponsor three specialist schools in engineering (Eckington School, Woodchurch High School and Devonport High School).

  92.  The Academy would like to step up this important work by supporting more specialist schools. This would require an increase in grant-in-aid.

Engineering Enterprise scholarships

  93.  The Academy could consider offering a series of scholarships to promote the development of engineers as entrepreneurs. The scholarships could be offered at Masters level.

  94.  Such a scheme would recognise the crucial importance of engineering to the economy and would send a clear signal that the Government recognises the value to be found in a combination of engineering and business skills.

Next phase of Visiting Professorship scheme

  95.  The Academy's Visiting Professors are senior industrial engineers who work with universities to develop more practitioner-oriented degree courses. The schemes were first established in response to concerns that many universities were providing courses that placed too great an emphasis on theory, rather than on practical applications of engineering skills and knowledge. (Full details of the VP schemes are given above).

  96.  The VPs in Principles of Engineering Design Scheme now receives only token cash support from The Academy, with major funding now going to the VP in Engineering Design for Sustainable Development scheme. Although goodwill and enthusiasm is keeping the VPs in Principles of Engineering Design scheme buoyant at present, we cannot expect this situation to continue indefinitely. The current funding model for Higher Education causes a bias towards academic research, in order to achieve good research assessment ratings, and the teaching of practically oriented topics such as design is under continuous financial pressure.

  97.  The Academy feels that it is essential to inject significant funding back into the VPs in Principles of Engineering Design scheme (which is still the foundation of all Academy programmes in this area), and to maintain a strong level of funding to the Sustainable Development scheme for at least the rest of this decade.

  98.  Three follow-on developments to bring greater practitioner input into the syllabus are in the planning or conceptual stages:

    —  a scheme to introduce systems integration into the undergraduate syllabus;

    —  a scheme to support practitioner input into degree courses for support engineers; and

    —  an initiative to assist in the roll out of university expertise into the development of manufactured products (through industrial practitioner support to engineering design centres).

  99.  With greater financial backing, these projects could be operated in parallel with the existing programme.


  In the financial year 2001-02 The Academy is forecasting to achieve a total income of about £16.0 million. The most significant elements of this income are as follows:
£'000per cent
Direct Income:
  Grant-in-Aid4,270 26.7
  Gatsby Charitable Foundation1,304 8.1
  Income from investments429 2.7
  Events and facilities hire244 1.5
  Donations and direct sponsorship218 1.4
  Subscriptions150 0.9
  Other direct income365 2.3
  Sub total6,980 43.6

Third Party Income in Support of:
  Grant-in-Aid funded programmes6,540 40.9
  Gatsby funded programmes2,276 14.2
  Other programmes208 1.3
  Sub total 9,024 56.4
Total income16,004100.0

  Grant-in-Aid funding is of crucial importance to The Academy. Direct funding accounts for over 25 per cent of total income and, when the third party income (money spent by others as a result of participating in The Academy's activities) to Grant-in-Aid programmes is included, Grant-in-Aid related activities account for nearly 68 per cent of total income. For every £1 of public money that we disburse, we raise roughly £2 from other sources.

  The Academy is proud of its record in extracting the maximum possible value from the Grant-in-Aid with which it works. Our success in generating extra resources alongside the Grant-in-Aid demonstrates that the Academy provides good value for the public funding that it receives. It must be doubted whether any alternative approach would allow the Government to secure the same outputs without substantial public expenditure increases.

  It must also be acknowledged that the fact that The Academy is seen to run large Grant-in-Aid funded programmes successfully gives it considerable credibility with companies and organisations when they are approached for support for The Academy's programmes with either direct or third party funding.

Monitoring and auditing Grant-in-aid

  There are four main mechanisms that control, monitor and audit the expenditure of Grant-in-Aid. They are: internal control procedures; external auditing; reporting to the Office of Science and Technology (OST); and reporting to the National Audit Office.

  (i)  Internal Controls

  The Academy sets a budget for Grant-in-Aid expenditure each year which has been approved by OST. The overall total of Grant-in-Aid is broken down into separate lines of expenditure for each programme. The Academy's Finance Committee then determines the level of delegated powers to be given to programme managers to raise expenditure requests against the elements of Grant-in-Aid for which they are responsible. In the entire history of The Academy, there has never been a single instance of financial abuse or misdemeanour.

  (ii)  External Audit

  As a registered charity, The Academy is obliged to follow the statement of recommended practice (SORP) issued by the Charity Commission, this sets out the standards which Charities must achieve in their financial reports. The latest statement issued by the Charity Commission is SORP 2000 which The Academy will implement in full in its financial report for the year ended 31 March 2002. The Academy is also required to comply with the financial reporting standards (FRS) issued by the Accounting Standards Board. The latest reporting standard, FRS17 covering the reporting of pension fund liabilities will be introduced in the 2001-02 financial report. The external auditors have never thought it necessary to include a statement in their report qualifying the accounts in any way.

  (iii)  Office of Science and Technology (OST)

  The Academy maintains sound working relationships with OST both at President and senior staff level, in particular it maintains an open dialogue with OST regarding all aspects of the Grant-in-Aid funded programme. Through these channels of communication The Academy is able both to make an input to the development of OST's strategy, and also to formulate proposals for programmes to be placed in the Management Plan to help the strategy to be achieved.

  Each year, The Academy submits the Management Plan for consideration by OST, this plan sets out in detail the proposed expenditure of Grant-in-Aid for the following financial year, together with outline proposals for expenditure in the subsequent two or three years. The Management Plan, once agreed, then becomes the budget for the year. At the end of each financial year The Academy submit copies of the audited accounts for the year to OST, plus a detailed statement of actual Grant-in-Aid expenditure on each programme.

  (iv)  National Audit Office (NAO)

  As with any publicly funded organisation, The Academy is subject to scrutiny by the NAO. The usual process by which this occurs is through the NAO's annual audit of the OST appropriation accounts, of which The Academy is one. The last comment made by the NAO on The Academy's accounts, in November 1999, related to a technical accounting issue which was quickly resolved.


  In financial year 2001-02 the internal costs of The Academy are as follows:
£'000per cent
Staff costs (inc. salaries, pension and N.I.) 1,51459.1
Accommodation (inc. rent, rates, utilities and insurance) 70127.4
Printing, stationery, postage and telephone 963.7
General expenses823.2
Legal, professional and audit fees84 3.3
Building repairs421.6

  The utilisation of Grant-in-Aid in the same year is:
£'000per cent
External expenditure on programmes2,508 58.7
Staff and overhead costs:
Staff costs of running programmes807 18.9
Contribution to accommodation costs477 11.2
Contribution to other overheads478 11.2
Total expenditure4,270 100.0

  From the above information the following may be deduced:
Internal costs2,562
Less: Staff costs of running programmes (807)
Total overhead costs 1,755
Grant-in-Aid contribution to accommodation costs 477
Grant-in-Aid contribution to other overheads 478
Total Grant-in-Aid contribution to overheads 955

  Therefore as a proportion Grant-in-Aid contributes 54 per cent of the overhead costs incurred by The Academy.


  The Academy has 1,270 Fellows. Election to The Academy is by invitation only; up to 60 Fellows are elected each year from nominations made by existing Fellows.

  The table below shows the number of Academy Fellows who are Fellows or members of the individual engineering institutions. Note that many Fellows belong to more than one engineering institution.

  Number of Academy Fellows by Fellowship or Membership of individual engineering institutions
InstitutionRAEng Fellows
Institution of Electrical Engineers317
Institution of Mechanical Engineers293
Institution of Civil Engineers265
Institution of Chemical Engineers121
Royal Aeronautical Society109
Institute of Physics98
Institute of Materials97
Institution of Structural Engineers94
Royal Institution of Naval Architects33
Institution of Mining and Metallurgy30
British Computer Society28
Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology 26
Institute of Energy22
Institution of Gas Engineers14
Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers 8
Institution of Nuclear Engineers5
Institute of Acoustics4
Institute of Measurement and Control4
Institution of Agricultural Engineers2
Institute of Nondestructive Testing2
Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine 1

11   Dr Robert Hawley, Sir Henry Royce Memorial Lecture, 31 October 2001. Back

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