TRENDS IN FORESTRY EDUCATION IN GREAT BRITAIN AND GERMANY 1992-2001
A Review Prepared for the United Nations
3. OVERVIEW OF NUMBERS OF STUDENTS
4. CHANGING EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES AND THE IMPACT ON CURRICULA
5. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
Fears have been expressed that numbers studying forestry have been in serious decline over recent years. A survey was conducted of student numbers, curriculum changes and graduate employment opportunities over the decade 1992-2001 at universities, colleges and fachhochschules in Britain and Germany.
In each country there are four ancient universities teaching forestry and all eight responded to the request for information. In Britain there are four significant colleges, two of which are now part of new universities, and all responded. In Germany six fachhochschules were approached of whom sixty percent provided data. During the first half of the decade numbers taking degrees at the old universities in Britain remained fairly stable but since 1997 there has been a 55% decline in numbers. This pattern is reflected almost exactly in the numbers studying for technical diplomas and certificates. However, over the same period there has been a significant rise in the numbers on degree courses at the new universities and colleges, although this rise does not compensate for the decline in numbers on older courses. In Germany a long decline in numbers in the universities was reversed after 1996 and by the end of the decade numbers were higher than at the start, although this may in part be due to accepting a higher proportion of applicants. Numbers applying to the fachhochschules seem to have declined in the first few years of the decade but thereafter remained fairly steady. By the start of the twenty first century virtually all the forestry programmes in Britain had unfilled vacancies but the position was much more positive in Germany, although probably not as healthy as in previous decades.
The various institutions in both countries have modernised their curricula, giving considerable increase in choice, over the decade but there is no convincing evidence that this has stimulated interest among potential applicants.
Employment opportunities are now very wide, common features being that the state is no longer a dominant employer, private consultancy has become important, there is growing interest in self-employment and increasing numbers are seeking work at the fringes of forestry or even in unrelated professions. This being said, the prospect of employment is no worse than in previous decades and it would seem that all those who are determined to practice forestry have ample opportunity to do so.