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The paper illustrates the contribution which behavioural science can make to the formulation of policy in engineering education. `Screening¿¿ is the technique which brings together the philosophy and sociology of education with the psychology of learning in the evaluation of significant aims and objectives. The academic versus practical argument, which has led to many policy decisions, as for example the tripartite system of secondary education and the colleges of advanced technology is screened. It is concluded from a historical analysis that the maintenance of the academic versus practical distinction between courses serves only to preserve status diferentials between institutions and their courses. The idea that there are well defined practical and academic abilities is not supported by psychological evidence. If anything, the spatial ability required for engineering design is also required for the pursuit of mathematics. The school syllabus does little to foster the abilities required for technology. The picture is further complicated by the fact that the personality attributes required for high academic performance may not be those required for successful performance either as a manager or entrepreneur. A case for a diversity of courses in engineering subjects has to be made on grounds other than on simple notions about academic and practical abilities.