According to the Royal Academy of Engineering (June 2007),
"No factor is more critical in underpinning the continuing health and vitality of any national economy than a strong supply of graduate engineers equipped with the understanding, attitudes and abilities necessary to apply their skills in business and other environments."
In a study carried out for the Council for Higher Education, it was found that of all the students who enrolled in a contact university in 2000, only 50% had graduated after five years (Scott et al, 2007). In Engineering, 54% of the students had graduated after five years. That means that only a minority of students complete an Engineering degree in four years.
There are many reasons why students take more than four years to complete an Engineering degree. Some reasons are:
- wrong career choice;
- difficulty coping with the amount, speed and level of difficulty of the work;
- too much socializing;
- poor study methods and time management;
- feeling “lost” in large lecture classes;
- poor problem-solving and critical thinking skills;
- not being able to accurately assess their own understanding;
- not seeking personal or academic assistance when needed.
In 2010 one of the ways in which the University of Pretoria began to address this problem was by launching the Engineering Augmented Degree Programme (ENGAGE). ENGAGE is a structured, 5-year curriculum that helps students make the transition from high school to university and provides support in coping with the demands of an Engineering degree. ENGAGE meets all of the requirements of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to qualify as an extended degree programme. Extended degree programmes are one of the strategies that the DHET encourages Higher Education Institutions to utilize in order to increase the number of entering students who obtain degrees (the throughput rate).