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International 2012 Materials Education Symposium

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The Teaching of Materials in UK Universities

Dr Tim Bullough | University of Liverpool

The Teaching of Materials in UK Universities

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The UK Centre for Materials Education has just completed its 2011 survey of all 26 UK University departments which teach Materials and Materials-related programmes at bachelor or masters level, to update the National Subject Profile for Materials 2008 ( http://www.materials.ac.uk/subject-profile/report.asp ). This provides accurate information about current Materials' students and programmes, and Materials academics' views on their teaching challenges and methods, as well as a definitive picture of trends and changes in Materials programmes and teaching in the UK over the past decade. For instance, undergraduate bachelor and integrated-masters Materials-related programmes continue to be offered at 21 UK universities, although only 12 Universities provide general Materials Science and Engineering programmes which now produce less than two-thirds of the 400-plus graduates from materials-related undergraduate programmes. About 40% of undergraduates now graduate with integrated-masters degrees rather than bachelors. Post-graduate masters Materials courses from the 26 UK universities offering these advanced qualifications remain very buoyant, with a steady increase from just under 300 graduates in 2007 to over 400 such graduates in 2011. The number of specialised polymer/composites and nuclear/environmental/bio-Materials masters programmes continues to increase. In 2011, the uncertainties associated with the introduction of higher student fees has become a significant concern for the UK's Materials departments, along with dealing with visa restrictions introduced for non-EU students and responding to the increasingly varied prior knowledge of new Materials students. Materials academic staff also admit to being unfamiliar with the wealth of electronic and web-based Materials teaching resources now available, as well as the modern technologies used to deliver them. Responding to the results of the UK's annual National Student Survey of all final-year undergraduates was also mentioned as being a significant issue for some Materials departments, and an analysis of NSS data for Materials programmes across the UK will be presented.