Women interested in an engineering career will be eligible for extra financial help from next year as a pilot scheme to boost the number of female engineering graduates launches in the United Kingdom.
As reported by the BBC, the scheme, worth £25 million and funded by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE), will give over 2,000 postgraduate students financial help in a total of 20 projects at 40 universities. Grants will be available from January 2014 until August 2015.
The Brunel University project, for example, will give 40 women on postgraduate engineering courses grants worth £1,250 to boost postgraduate study in "under-represented" groups. Brunel engineering lecturer Petra Gratton told the publication:
"Only around a quarter of students on engineering master's courses are women. Bluntly speaking, that has to change if UK engineering is going to continue to compete as successfully as it currently does. Encouraging more women into the profession is vital to the country's economic future."
There is a severe shortage of engineers in the United Kingdom. Supporters of the scheme say that the financial help will not only allow students to realize their full potential in the industry, but may also dispel myths that engineering is mainly on-site -- as at advanced levels, it is an office-based profession -- as well as bump up the numbers available within the engineering talent pool.
The pilot scheme follows rising concerns that due to tripled student fees and lessened grant availability in the U.K., many talented learners who cannot afford the new rates are being priced out of education.
The U.K.'s National Union of Students (NUS) supports the move and says that it is a step in the right direction -- but longer term solutions to the problem are necessary instead of "quick fixes."
Image credit: Flickr