R. López-Cancelos, A. Badaoui, R. Comesaña

Universidad de Vigo (SPAIN)
The new engineering degrees designed to adapt the higher education to the European Education Space have been already into effect for some years. The benefits of a more homogeneous syllabus and lectures/coursework schedule along the different European Union members, the so called European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System, start to be realised. According to the European Commission, student mobility within the European Union has considerably grown during last years. Moreover, statistics about population migration within EU reveals that the age of almost half of the emigrants is found between 20 and 30 years old, and most of them went abroad after finishing their higher education; therefore, although graduated workers migration is attributed to a variety of causes, including the economic factors, it is clear that these very similar engineering degrees within the UE supports this phenomenon. Nevertheless, difficulties have also been identified when giving expression to these common education concepts; most of them related to the very limited resources at disposal of current Universities in the implementation of an educational plan conceived for prosperity days.

One feature of EES undergraduate programs is the specificity of the education even from the first courses, against the higher background education characteristic of former programs. However, some of the different undergraduate programs implemented by the engineering schools frequently coincide in the syllabus of first and second year courses, and no differences of contents and/or learning approaches are supposed from such programmes. When this circumstance takes place and it is accompanied by a low ratio between learning resources/number of registered students, the engineering schools are forced to merge the learning groups of different undergraduate programs into a unique group. Therefore, the students of the different undergraduate programs are not discriminated, attending the same lectures and laboratory classes, being subjected to same assignments and assessment policy. Nevertheless, there are some key aspects not considered by this approach, as it is the likelihood of a different student profile as a function of the specific undergraduate program. Mainly governed by the admission marks, and set by the program demand and professional prospects, the result is the presence of objectively different student groups under a common learning approach. Therefore, taking into consideration that the learning approach can fulfill the learning needs of only one or no-one of these groups, the consequence is a dramatic descent of overall learning efficiency. This paper discusses this circumstance from a comprehensive point of view, and particularizes for the Energy Engineering and Mining and Energy Resources Engineering undergraduate programs. Moreover, potential learning strategies for the solution of this challenge are proposed and discussed within the framework of Stress Analysis, a common second year subject for these undergraduate programs.