ENHANCING THE ATTRACTIVENESS OF STUDIES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY - AN INTERNATIONAL COMPARATIVE STUDY
KTH Royal Institute of Technology (SWEDEN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:The ATTRACT project, funded in 2009 under the EU flagship programme “Lifelong Learning”, is a follow up initiative of a Swedish national project (”Ung Ingenjör/Young Engineer coordinated by KTH) which had the main objective of investigating the attractiveness of engineering studies for young student.
The project partnership is composed by a subgroup of universities members within the CLUSTER Network (www.cluster.org), a consortium of 13 elite
European Universities in Science and Engineering. ATTRACT has brought together over a time-span of 34 months universities, secondary schools, employers, policy makers, professional association and media leaders.
Young pupils eagerly consume new technology but are apparently uninterested in its development and production whatever the cause, educational providers, graduate employers and government agencies need to communicate what an engineer is and his/her social contribution. The project aimed at comparing national perceptions of the engineer profession and engineering courses in order to identify differences and similarities in attitudes between partner countries. ATTRACT draws upon expertise in universities’ marketing departments as well as relevant external agencies such as national governmental bodies, companies and trade associations.
The contribution to quality in Lifelong Learning can be considered as the project main general objective. ATTRACT brings together key actors in engineering education in eight European Countries with the idea that a better understanding of why young people are less attracted by engineering education will enable a range of measures to be undertaken to ultimately increase the attractiveness.
ATTRACT has aimed at investigating recruitment, admissions and retention from different points of view by involving secondary schools and employers. Participating universities supplied background data from their national database and project findings have been used as a basis for future interactions with policy makers and other authorities within these participating countries.
A general framework was developed in the first phase of the project in order to compare the educational systems and circumstances within each of the partner countries under a series of relevant headings, and to help introduce the context of engineering education in different countries.
The comparison framework presented is classified within the following categories:
- General information about partner universities
- Pre-university education in each partner country
- Career guidance provision for school students
- University admissions practices
- Financial situation for third-level students
The project activities have been carried out within the following four development work packages (WP):
- The Attractiveness of Being an Engineer
The final project report (published in October 2012) lists a number of interesting conclusions and recommendations (including inputs from the stakeholders) per each phase of what we called the “The Critical Stages of Engineering Education”:
- Youth Impressions and Preconceptions
- Secondary School STEM Preparation
- University Selection and Orientation
- First/Second Year Experience
- Transition to a Lasting Career
- Institutionalizing Engineering Education Innovations
Keywords: Student retention, attractiveness, comparative studies, engineering, technology, comparative research, student guidance, lifelong learning.