Cinderella sector lobbies for more food students

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food science Sheffield Sheffield hallam university University

Growing food science skills shortage prompts urgent action

The Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) has set up a working group to prevent what it describes as an impending crisis in the teaching of food science and the likely closure of many university departments.

The group called for more resources from the government to boost the number of food science and technology students to overcome a growing skills shortage in the industry.

The small number of students opting for food science and technology at A-level is leading to a fall in the number and quality of undergraduates and of post- graduates, according to some academics and manufacturers.

At an IFST meeting in London last month (see p70), manufacturers, retailers and academics recognised the need for more co-ordinated lobbying of government. They want to convince ministers of the strategic value of food science teaching and to highlight the skills shortage.

"The problem is there is very little interest in food on the science side in schools," said Keith Proudlove of Sheffield Hallam University. "We've got a big task in making it more meaningful and viable in schools."

Professor David Ledward, recently retired from the University of Reading's School of Biosciences, said: "It's an expensive degree, which is why a lot of universities don't like it." He predicted that of the 10 relatively large specialist departments teaching and carrying out research into food science, just two or three would survive.