Germans drive engineering students to first class record
July 9 2013
The Wrexham University revealed that its growing number of German students helped to raise the engineering department’s already high standards and motivated UK and international counterparts to new skill levels with their “professional and committed” attitudes.
Together they racked up 24 first class degrees; 24 upper second class degrees, 13 lower second class degrees and one third class degree.
The average figure for UK students gaining a First on an aeronautical and mechanical engineering degree is roughly 10%; at Glyndŵr University the figure was nearer 35%.
Professor Peter Excell, Dean of Arts, Science and Technology, said the University’s prestigious engineering curriculum and cutting edge facilities – including a Merlin Flight Simulator and supersonic wind tunnel – helped attract the cream of overseas engineering to north east Wales.
The Wrexham University’s close ties and reputation with industry giants Airbus, Toyota, United Utilities, UPM Paper, Tata and others had also played a major role, he added.
“A number of industry-oriented colleges in Germany have, for some time, made arrangements to feed their best students into Glyndŵr's undergraduate engineering programmes,” said Prof Excell.
“They come with some German government funding but, until recently, they confined themselves to short engineering programmes that fitted the funding structure.
“Glyndŵr staff recognised the outstanding ability of many of the students and pointed out that they were well qualified to succeed on a full honours degree programme if they could find the small personal investment needed.
“Many of the best students took up this suggestion and this year has seen the first substantial crop of these students coming through the honours programme.”
He added: “The results have been spectacular, not just for the German students but also for the other nationalities on the programme who showed every sign of having been motivated by their colleagues’ professional and committed attitudes.”
Prof Excell confirmed there was no chance of lecturers “dumbing down” standards and handing out degrees to just anyone:
“Not a bit of it: they are tough cookies who tend to be less generous with high marks than happens in some other subjects,” said Prof Excell.
“Their marking has been independently verified by several external examiners from other universities who guarantee comparability across the UK.
“Of those 24 students, in fact only 10 are from the German group and the rest are made up of students from the UK, India and a few other countries: this is a remarkably good performance for them as well and what seems to have happened is that the energy and dedication of the various national groupings have created a certain competitive spirit that has pushed everyone’s performance up.”
He added: “Of course we would all prefer to see a Welsh University concentrating on Welsh students, but the others pay their way and help to improve the overall spread of facilities and the number of lecturers, so everyone benefits.
“We would also all like to believe ‘British engineering is best’ but the reality of the modern world is that we have to collaborate with other countries to get the best out of the best people, so the real take-home message is that top-quality students from what is undoubtedly the powerhouse of German engineering industry like what Glyndwr University can offer and they thrive on it.”