Peter Finegold, Head of Education Policy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said about Theresa May’s proposal to cut charges for humanities degree courses as part of the Government’s view of the cost of tuition fees:
“Charging higher fees for STEM subjects will have a detrimental impact on the skills shortage in engineering industries and will further undermine social mobility for young people from poorer backgrounds. At a time when the UK needs to produce more graduates of these subjects, charging more for an engineering degree will act as a disincentive for students.
“Engineering is one of the most expensive degree courses, but also amongst the most valuable for our economy – in 2016 the sector contributed £486 billion (over 25%) of the UK’s GDP.
“Talented young people from disadvantaged backgrounds will feel particularly reluctant to pursue engineering as a career. They will, no doubt, feel that they ought to study a cheaper course, rather than pursuing an engineering degree that will lead to a fulfilling and interesting career.
“It appears that universities don’t behave like a free market, so suggestions around varying fees alone to meet the costs of different degrees will not work. The Government must carefully plan its next move and ensure alignment with its planned Industrial Strategy.”