The number of engineering graduates taking a second degree has been growing in recent years. Many do so because they want to improve their employment prospects. For others, it is a foundation for further learning, and an opportunity to specialise in a different subject area because of a late, newfound interest in a particular field. Although a second degree does not automatically guarantee future employment success, or a more prestigious and highly paid job, statistics do indicate that the employment prospects of students with postgraduate degrees are improved.
While some companies regard second degrees as irrelevant, preferring industrial experience to higher qualifications, many now stipulate a postgraduate degree as a prerequisite to moving up the responsibility ladder. This is driven in part by the increasingly global nature of the employment market, and the rapid pace of technological change. Today’s employers are looking for more than just high academic achievers in their new recruits. They are seeking highly adaptable individuals who are equipped both with a deeper understanding of their chosen field and with the knowledge, skills and wherewithal to operate on a national and an international level. They are also seeking employees who demonstrate a willingness and commitment to skills updating and continual professional development. Some employers see postgraduate study as indicative of a student’s commitment to ongoing professional development and learning new skills throughout their working life.
Studying Mechanical Engineering at postgraduate level is not an easy option. It involves a great deal of hard work and determination, but for those who decide to go down this route the opportunities and benefits are numerous. Apart from improved job prospects and gaining a competitive advantage in the job market, postgraduate study offers an opportunity to:
- acquire a necessary qualification for a further career move;
- gain deeper specialist knowledge in a chosen field;
- develop completely new skills, and expand on others;
- broaden horizons and depth of understanding;
- gain a better understanding of companies in various engineering and geographical sectors;
- do industrial or academic research and learn research methodology;
- play a key role and make an impact on a company and one’s own development.
In addition, for those students opting to study a postgraduate degree (in part or in whole) in a different country from their country of origin, it provides an opportunity to study and develop expertise in a foreign language, and gain insight into and knowledge of a different country’s culture and systems. In fact, mechanical engineers with language skills who have worked in more than one country are becoming increasingly sought after, particularly as many companies now have international partners or subsidiaries.
Undertaking postgraduate study in the UK can be particularly beneficial to foreign students if they have the opportunity to forge links with a company in the UK that also operates in their own country. They can then act as a liaison person for that company when they return home. Likewise, UK companies and universities try to maintain links with students once they have qualified and returned home, because it encourages good working relationships and builds good communication networks throughout the global market. In some instances, international students stay on for a time after they have completed their course, continuing to work for the company they have been involved with during their study period.
The UK welcomes foreign students, and in a campaign to encourage more international students to study here, the British Government and British Council introduced a package of changes designed to make the process of applying to study in the UK faster and simpler. These include making visa arrangements more user-friendly and easing restrictions on taking paid employment. They are also reducing the need for international students to reapply for leave to remain in the UK whilst studying. In addition, the Chevening Scholarship Scheme is to be expanded with funding from government, universities and business to support an extra 500 scholarships on top of the current 2200 students.
About the IMechE
Founded in 1847, IMechE is the market leader in the field of mechanical engineering, manufacturing and allied technologies, and has approximately 83,000 members in 120 countries. Playing a vital role in the education, training and professional development of mechanical engineers, IMechE acts as an international centre for the development and transfer of mechanical engineering technology.
Membership of IMechE is recognised professionally throughout the world. Members and Fellows are recognised as ‘Chartered Mechanical Engineers’, and are given exemption from part or all of the professional registration examinations in many countries that have statutory requirements