Student diversity initiatives win RAEng funding

Article by Adam Duckett

Unis awarded for plans to develop toolkits and green skills

EIGHT UK university engineering departments have been awarded more than £700,000 (US$850,000) by the Royal Academy of Engineering to boost diversity and inclusion, and address unequal outcomes experienced by students from underrepresented groups.

Among the successful bids are initiatives designed to help develop entrepreneurial skills, provide mentoring, develop a toolkit to boost employability, and provide internships that bolster skills for sustainable engineering.

This is the second batch of awards from the RAEng’s Diversity Impact Programme, which gave £1m to 11 departments last year. The academy said some of this year’s projects focus particularly on the barriers faced by students with multiple intersecting markers of disadvantage. These are aspects of an individual’s identity and/or their background such as disability, ethnic background and socio-economic status.

The University of Bristol will use its £100,000 grant to empower students from underrepresented groups through workstreams that include activities such as mentoring, systemic evaluation and bottom-up training.

Hayaatun Sillem, CEO of RAEng, said the UK must boost diversity to achieve a world-leading engineering workforce.

“In order to do that we need to address the inequality of experience and outcomes for engineering students and graduates from underrepresented groups. I hope these projects will provide important insights into how we can achieve this and help to create more inclusive cultures at a critical stage for aspiring engineers.”

While 30% of engineering university graduates are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, just 9% of UK engineers are from the same background, says the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers (AFBE-UK).

Meanwhile, EngineeringUK reports that 24% of those working in engineering are from low socioeconomic backgrounds compared to 26% in the total labour force. And that 71% from advantaged backgrounds work at a managerial or professional level compared to 39% from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This article is adapted from an earlier online version.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

Recent Editions

Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.