Memorandum from the Association of Civil
Engineering Departments (ACED)
The Committee invited evidence on the following
At present UK has a marginal costing system
which does not cover full costs. The introduction of Full Economic
Costing of Research will help research active universities to
become financially sustainable, however the impact of a drop in
research grade, particularly from a 5 to a 4 creates serious financial
problems. Ultimately it will lead to the closure of more departments
of civil engineering.
This has resulted in viable research teams/units
who gained respectable 3s or 4s and who were on track to better
things to lose funding. Research activity has thus stopped as
active research individuals have sought appointments in grade
5 universities. This has had a negative effect on the delivery
of specialist courses, especially at Masters level.
There is a recognition of the need for a "critical
mass" of staff necessary to sustain research in a particular
discipline or area and widespread dilution and equal funding for
each university would not be practicable or useful.
No university has a Monopoly on innovation and
there must be some serious competition in key areas.
The reduction of Fee Band B from x2 to x1.7
has encouraged cash hungry VCs to re-examine "resource intensive"
engineering provision. The freeing up of lab space and the ending
of regular requirements to update or replace expensive specialist
IT and equipment are financially attractive options; especially
when applications (and associated UCAS scores) for engineering
(although rising nationally) are low when compared with other
subject provision. At the very least, the decrease in direct funding
puts further pressure on a dwindling (and aging) staff base.
The teaching is intensive 20-25 contact hours
/week and makes heavy use of laboratories, IT, fieldtrips etc,
consequently any reduction in fee puts further pressure on civil
engineering departments and universities are increasingly likely
to cap the numbers of students admitted to study science and engineering.
Scientists and Engineers destined to play a
leading role in industry and the public sector should be educated
in a research-led university.
It is vital for the staff development roles
of all the Regional Development Agencies in the UK that there
are local universities with the knowledge and expertise which
can be transferred by using appropriate mechanisms.
The effect of fees in 2006 (£3,000 pa is
anticipated for most research-led universities) is unknown. Some
argue it may force students to concentrate on studies which have
a revenue stream attached and hence Engineering degrees may benefit,
whilst others believe that it may make students consider degrees
with sufficient "free/study" time to undertake part-time
Civil Engineering infrastructure is necessary
to keep the country going. Government investment in infrastructure
is significant but our national capacity (transport, water etc)
is in doubt if we lack the people to run and maintain everything.
People complain about railwaysbut society will be devastated
if water, sewage etc start collapsing. Civil Engineering is of
national strategic importanceit must be a Government function
to support it by direct measures (as they have done with teaching).
Government could exempt civil engineering students from fees,
could give the title Engineer the same protection as Architect,
could restore (or improve) fee band weighting, could direct that
school qualifications focus on core subjects (eg maths, English,
science, modern language, history, geography) with specialist
topics being dealt with at FE and HE.