THE UK’s first new “greenfield” university in 40 years has unveiled its outline curriculum and is inviting engineers, students, academics, and employers to comment before its campus opens to students.
Launched in 2015, New Model in Technology & Engineering (NMiTE) claims to offer the “world’s most radical engineering degree curriculum” and aims to open its doors to the first 300 students at a purpose-built city centre campus in Hereford in September 2019.
David Sheppard, co-leader of the development team, outlined the full details of the new education model, in The Chemical Engineer last year.
Confirmed components of the curriculum include an academic year of 46 weeks for a Master’s degree in “liberal” engineering where students are taught in subjects beyond science and mathematics. Subjects such as finance, economics, marketing, politics, and computing will be incorporated into the students’ problem-solving process. A six-month work placement is also expected to be completed within three years, differing from the current 4.5 years.
The main difference between NMiTE’s curriculum and traditional universities is that there are no lectures, except for visiting speakers, and only two hours of seminars each week. NMiTE says a typical week will include 20 hours of student-led project work and 15 hours of self-study.
Each academic year will have around 13 three-week blocks. Each block will involve students working in groups to solve problem-based projects, with some to be contributed by industry. The students will have a degree of control over which blocks they undertake and in what order.
Peter Goodhew, a leading member of NMiTE’s curriculum panel, said: “Our approach is designed for the best and brightest who want to excel, it is definitely not for people who want to coast through university with the minimum of effort.
“It is also very focussed on getting employers involved at the start and throughout so they mould the curriculum to meet the current and emerging skills industry needs.”
Prerequisite qualifications in mathematics and physics will not be required. These will be taught as part of the projects, with prospective students needing only to show the aptitude to learn these. NMiTE aims to attract women, mature students and “those with grit” into engineering.
“We’ll be looking to bring in [those] who are currently excluded, such as the many experienced engineers in the military and also women, who often do not take [qualifications] in maths and physics,” said Sheppard.
In February, Engineering UK published its annual report of the UK engineering industry and reported 257,000 people with engineering skills will be needed to fill new vacancies, leaving an annual shortfall of 69,000 by 2022.
Sheppard commented: “NMiTE will radically change the way engineering is taught in [the UK] to help tackle the growing shortage of graduate engineers, especially those with the broad range of additional applied analytical thinking, innovation, interpersonal and leadership skills that employers seek.”
Last week, however, the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) reported that the graduate job market in engineering has fallen by 14% over the last year.
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