Accredit where it's due

June 17, 2010

In 2003, the University of Exeter offered the UK's first undergraduate degree producing specialist renewable-energy engineers. Since then, it has embraced many of the elements John Turner emphasises in his article, "Putting the world back in working order" (29 April). Exeter places sustainability at the heart of its programme, which is expressly aimed at delivering engineers with the right skills - general and specific - to aid in the growth of an expanding industrial sector. The curriculum is built on market research as to what companies want from our engineering graduates.

Given that the course was unique, our priority was to advance public legitimacy through accreditation with professional engineering institutions, such as the Energy Institute. We were initially concerned that students might have to elect to take non-accredited and accredited routes to graduation, with policy-focused students having to forgo the opportunity for accredited programmes.

I am pleased to say that our experience with the Energy Institute has been positive: we won accreditation at our first attempt, have since re-accredited our three-year programme and have completed the initial accreditation of an MEng degree. The Energy Institute has welcomed the format of both degree programmes, praised the quality of our material and students, and required no significant changes to our content.

While much may be said for the argument that engineering departments must make their courses more appealing, applied and relevant to a changing world, this does not mean that the professional engineering institutions are not ready to accredit them.

Peter Connor, Senior lecturer, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus.

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