National Union of Students


Press Release   •   Oct 23, 2012 14:13 BST

Students want better education about intellectual property (IP) to help them with their future careers as fewer than half (40 per cent) of students consider their current understanding of IP to be enough according to a survey published by the National Union of Students (NUS), the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN).

The research found that while 80 per cent of students believe knowledge of IP is important, many students are not even aware of the potential scope of IP education. And even where it does take place, IP education is often restricted to plagiarism. Furthermore whilst 82 per cent of students feel it is important to know about IP to ensure everyone receives recognition for their work and ideas, significantly less make a connection between IP and commercial success.

The research findings demonstrate a clear demand from students for better access to information on IP and how it relates to their future careers. However, students are presently confused about what IP is and don't know who to go to get this information. This is especially relevant for those involved in teaching engineering, design and the creative industries.

Rachel Wenstone, NUS Vice-President (Higher Education), said:

“Intellectual property is a significant issue for many UK students, not only for the successful completion of their academic course, but as importantly, to ensure students understand how ideas are recognised and protected, to prepare them for the growing world of enterprise and innovation beyond graduation.

“Improvements are clearly needed. Students want IP education to be integrated into their courses, and linked to their future career options.”

Welcoming the findings of the report, David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said:

“It is vital that we have an IP literate workforce to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing workplace. I believe the key to success is to garner support from professional bodies responsible for accrediting courses, as well as university and industry and to use that support to bring about changes to the curriculum.”

Professor Ruth Soetendorp who leads IPAN’s Education Group said:

“This research highlights shortcomings in student IP understanding and its teaching in Further and Higher Education which have negative implications for the UK economy. The UK needs to be world class in the creative arts, innovative in its product and systems designs, and pioneering in manufacturing processes. In a global market these need to be underwritten by a proper understanding of IP embedded in an educated workforce.”

“This research confirms what we have long suspected: that students want to see IP teaching integrated in their courses. The UK’s FE and HE course providers must now step-up to meet this need.”

NUS (National Union of Students) is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.

We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students.