Is the Food Engineering Degree getting Canned?

Backed by leading Food & Beverage Manufactures such as Nestle, PepsiCo and Warburtons, the BEng and MEng courses were launched in 2014 by Sheffield Hallam University through a partnership with the Food & Drink Federation.

Delivered exclusively at Sheffield Hallam University, the courses presented students with the opportunity to secure the UK’s first accredited Food and Drink Engineering Degree. The courses were designed to help tackle strong competition from the Aerospace and Automotive industry and address critical skill shortages facing the Food and Drink Industry.

However, less than 4 years after the degree was introduce, Sheffield Hallam University seem to be in doubt about continuing with the full-time courses due to poor application numbers.  A few weeks ago, the BEng and MEng Food Engineering courses were taken off the list of available courses on their website and the University was not accepting applications. Speaking with their Admissions Team at that time, FoodEng Recruitment learnt that the University wanted to focus more towards Higher and Degree Apprenticeships in cooperation with Food & Drink Manufacturers.

As of today (Tuesday 13th June 2018), the BEng and MEng Courses have been relisted on the University’s website and appear open to applications, but a member of the admissions department has told us the faculty is under discussion on whether they will continue with 2018/2019 enrolment.  

Applications & Student Numbers for BEng and Meng Food Engineering



2016/17 2017/18 2018/2019
Number of applications received: 32 19 39 16 9*
Number of Students enrolled: 13 22 34 32 TBC
Number of Students completing the course: 0 0 0 1 TBC

Source: Sheffield Hallam University (Freedom of Information)

*number of applications as of 1st June 2018

Please bear in mind that these are typically 3 to 5 year courses with the possibility of a placement year. Where student enrolment numbers exceed the number of applications for the year, the additional students were recruited through Clearing.

Of the 13 students who enrolled in 2014 only 8 students are still on the course.  Considering the calibre of branded Food & Drink companies (Nestle, PepsiCo, Mars, Coca-Cola etc) that endorsed the Degree Courses, combined with the level of promotion the courses were given in publications such as The Engineer, The Manufacturer, The Grocer and Food Manufacturer, to say that application and enrolment numbers were disappointing would be an understatement, let alone that only 8 students are left from the initial batch of entrants.

What is the correct approach for developing future Food & Drink Engineers?

Should the Food & Drink Industry be doing more to encourage applications for the full-time BEng and Meng Food Engineering courses at Sheffield Hallam University, or do you agree that promoting the Higher and Degree Apprenticeships (which are also develop in partnership with employers) is the correct approach the industry should be taking?

Degree apprenticeships are still quite new, however, with the cost to students between £9,250 to £12,750 per year for the full-time Food Engineering courses, the Higher and Degree Apprenticeship schemes offer future engineers the opportunity to earn while they learn the skills desperately needed by Food and Drink Manufacturers, without the burden of debt from student loans.

The question as to whether the full-time Food Engineering Degree courses will be canned/dropped by Sheffield Hallam University, it may be a little too early to offer an answer, but its an answer Food and Drink Manufacturers should be demanding.