BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Education
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Hot Topics 
UK Systems 
League Tables 
Features 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Wednesday, 4 October, 2000, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
'Re-branding' saves engineering
Steel
Students associate engineering with declining industries
Engineering has been "re-branded" at a university in an attempt to make it more attractive to students - and is claiming a dramatic improvement in applications.

Instead of terms such as "engineering" and "industry", the University of Staffordshire prefers to use the words "technology" and "business".


You can either change the product, or you can change the name - and we've decided to keep the same core knowledge, but change the packaging

Professor Tom Ruxton, dean of the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology

When staff go into schools to encourage applications, instead of talking about "manufacturing" they say they're technologists in the business of "creating".

Engineering has suffered from a long decline in applications - leaving university engineering departments with fewer students, less money and staff and the threat of closure.

And in an attempt to reverse this trend, Staffordshire has deliberately set out to shake off associations with old-fashioned industries and to re-locate the subject alongside new technologies.

Re-packaging

"It's a question of perception. When you say 'engineering' people think of dirty overalls, shipyards and coal mines - even though engineering is now more about high technology," said Professor Tom Ruxton.

"You can try to re-educate people about this - and there are over 400 organisations currently trying to promote engineering. But it just isn't working."

"So we've said - 'You can either change the product, or you can change the name' - and we've decided to keep the same core knowledge, but change the packaging."

And the university's re-named department - the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology - claims a revival in its fortunes, with engineering student numbers rising from a low of 450 four years ago - and a deficit of 1m - up to over 1,100 this year.

The department has increased numbers by building up links with schools - and it has been talking to pupils which has helped to shape Professor Ruxton's approach.

"We've learnt that when you talk about 'technology' and you talk about 'engineering' you get a different response.

"And if you say you work in 'business' rather than working in 'industry' - it will draw a different response, because industry sets off ideas of factories and heavy engineering."

As well as raising the profile of the subject within universities, Professor Ruxton says that the bigger picture is the importance of finding engineers for the future of the economy.

"Engineering is essential to the wealth creation of the country - and if re-badging the subject brings in students then it will be worth it."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

04 May 00 | Education
'Thinking' robot degree course
12 Jan 00 | Education
Student numbers increasing
03 Dec 99 | Education
University drop-out rates exposed
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories