APPENDIX 3: CALL FOR EVIDENCE |
The House of Lords Science and Technology Sub-Committee
I, under the chairmanship of Lord Willis of Knaresborough, are
conducting an inquiry into higher education in STEM subjects (science,
technology, engineering and mathematics).
A healthy science base and a supply of suitably trained
STEM graduates are vital for our economy to enable the UK to do
well as a nation. STEM graduates are required both to allow the
country to address scientific problems such as climate change
and responding to global pandemics, and also to provide high level
numeracy and quantitative skills for industries such as the financial
services and the civil service. A very wide range of business
groups and government view the supply of STEM graduates as a key
part of economic growth and UK competitiveness.
Nevertheless, university recruitment to some STEM
subject areas continues to prove a major challenge, so much so
that most STEM subjects are identified as "strategically
important and vulnerable subjects". Industry continues to
report shortages of STEM graduates in some areas and yet at the
same time a substantial proportion of STEM graduates end up working
in jobs that do not require a STEM degree. The focus of this inquiry
is to explore the reasons for this mismatch and how to ensure
that the UK is producing a sufficient supply of STEM graduates
to meet all its needs. The deadline for written evidence submissions
is Friday, 16 December 2011.
The Committee invite submissions on the following
points and also on the combined effect that these issues have
or will have on the provision of higher education in STEM subjects:
- What is the definition of a STEM
subject, and a STEM job?
- Do we understand demand for STEM graduates and
how this could be used to influence supply?
- Are schools and colleges supplying
the right numbers of STEM students and do they have the right
skills to study STEM first degrees?
- What have been the effects of earlier government
initiatives on the uptake of STEM subjects at advanced level?
- What effect, if any, will the English Baccalaureate
have on the study of STEM subjects in higher education?
- Is the current number of STEM
students and graduates (from the UK, EU and overseas) sufficient
to meet the needs of industry, the research base, and other sectors
not directly connected with STEM?
- Is the quality of STEM graduates emerging from
higher education sufficiently high, and if not ,why not?
- Do STEM graduates have the right skills for their
next career move, be it research, industry or more broadly within
- What effect will higher education reforms have
on the quality of teaching, the quality of degrees and the supply
of STEM courses in higher education institutions?
- What effect does "research assessment"
have upon the ability to develop new and cross-disciplinary STEM
- What is the relationship between teaching and
research? Is it necessary for all universities to teach undergraduates
and post graduates and conduct research? What other delivery model
should be considered?
- Does the UK have a sufficient geographical spread
of higher education institutions offering STEM courses?
- What is being done and what ought to be done
to increase the diversity of STEM graduates in terms of gender,
ethnic origin and socio-economic background?
- Is the current training of PhD
students sensitive to the range of careers they subsequently undertake?
- Are we currently supporting the right number
of PhD studentships to maintain the research base and are they
of sufficient quality?
- What impact have Doctoral Training Centres had
on the quality and number of PhD students? Are there alternative
- Should state funding be used to promote Masters
degrees and is the balance right between the number of Masters
degree students and PhD students?
- What impact will higher education reforms have
on the willingness of graduates to pursue a research career?
- What incentives should industry
offer to STEM graduates in order to attract them?
- What steps are industry and universities taking
together to ensure that demand for STEM graduates matches supply
in terms of numbers, skills and quality of graduates?
- What lessons can be learnt from
the provision of higher education in STEM subjects in other countries?
Which countries provide the most helpful examples of best practice?