The government has pledged to prioritise the teaching science and technology in UK universities as part of its higher education strategy.
The Higher Ambitions strategy , unveiled by Lord Mandelson, sets out to ensure that universities provide high-class skills needed by employers and widen access to research.
The plan calls for businesses to play a greater role in funding and designing courses and to sponsor students and work placements, in a move that aims to tackle the mismatch between supply of skills from universities and demand from employers.
New forms of degree will allow students to learn part time or study from work and from home, opening up higher education to a greater range of people, said Mandelson.
"The government also wants universities to make an even bigger contribution to Britain's economic recovery and future growth," he told the Lords.
"We have therefore decided to give greater priority to programmes that meet the need for high-level skills, especially in key areas such as science, technology, engineering and maths."
The strategy was welcomed by E-Skills UK, the public private sector partnership responsible for IT skills.
CEO Karen Price said, "This is really important for the UK as IT underpins the productivity and competitiveness of every business and we are facing a catastrophic mismatch in supply and demand."
• More competition between universities, giving greater priority to programmes that meet the need for high-level skills.
• Business to be more engaged in the funding and design of programmes, sponsorship of students, and work placements.
• Creating more part-time, work-based and foundation degrees to make it easier for adults to go to university, with routes from apprenticeships through to foundation degrees and other vocational programmes.
• Universities setting out clearly what students can expect in terms of the nature and quality of courses offered.
• Sustaining world-class research base by continuing to focus on excellence, concentrating research funding where needed to secure critical mass and impact.
• Encouraging collaboration between universities on world class research, especially in high-cost science.