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‘Alarming’ decline in engineering course enrolments, according to Engineers Australia

The continued decline in Australian students enrolling in engineering courses is cause for deep concern, according to a report by Engineers Australia.

The 2019 report “Australia’s Next Generation of Engineers” states that the eight years following 2007 saw steady growth culminating in a record level of graduations. Since 2015, however, since completions have been declining.

Most concerning is the contraction in domestic student intake and completions.

In contrast to this, undergraduate and postgraduate completions by international student has been on the rise.

According to Engineers Australia, international students have increased their share of entry-level commencements from 23.5 per cent to 34.3 per cent since 2001. Though significant, this growth seems minor when compared to the astonishing increase in postgraduate student intake. In 2001, international students made 40.6 per cent of commencements in postgraduate engineering courses. By 2017, this share had increased to 74.4 per cent.

While this trend is apparent across the board, it’s especially evident in the subsea engineering field. Subsea engineering is arguably one of the most technically challenging aspects of the offshore oil and gas industry. With a vast proportion of Australia’s gas deposits located at great distances offshore, in deep-water, and in extreme conditions, having these skills locally available is vital.

According to Marius Martens, Chairman of Subsea Energy Australia, growing and engaging with the next generation of engineers is crucial to ensure the longevity and sustainability of the subsea industry.

“Our young engineers are the future of the subsea industry, and it’s critical to our businesses to attract them, our responsibility to nurture them, and our duty to excite them with the possibilities of this extraordinary industry,” said Martens.

Martens will be chairing the “focus on processing” session on day one of the Subsea Forum at the Australasian Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition (AOG) on 13 March at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The University of Western Australia recently launched a specialist subsea engineering centre specifically to drive research into new technologies for offshore oil and gas production.

In partnership with operators Chevron Australia and Woodside Energy, the Centre for Long Subsea Tiebacks will further develop Western Australia’s global reputation in deep water energy production.

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater said the Centre for Long Subsea Tiebacks would further establish The University of Western Australia as a world-leading hub for subsea engineering and inspire the next generation of leaders through real-world research and teaching excellence.

“The Centre for Long Subsea Tiebacks will be an important hub for connecting research and industry, offering a unique collaborative environment that will equip our researchers with the expertise to address the pressing challenges of Australia’s energy security and strengthen our contribution to the global LNG market,” Freshwater said.

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