Structural Upheaval

January 20, 1995

The Engineering Council wants universities to expand the provision of accredited courses for incorporated engineers, the level immediately below chartered engineer status.

In a wide-ranging document published this week the council proposes a big revamp of engineering education. It says that a shortage of engineers at HNC and incorporated level has been made more acute by the expansion of higher education. The council wants standards of competence raised for all engineers to meet new job demands. It also recommends that training include both broad education and specialist knowledge for all levels.

Keith Foster, engineering profession director at the council, says that expansion has resulted in a blurring of the categories of engineers, causing uncertainty in industry. The proposals should clarify the situation by introducing demarcations between the registrations of the three grades -- chartered, incorporated and engineering technician -- together with an "enhancement" of their requirements.

Professor Foster said that many universities are running courses which could be better directed to the needs of the incorporated engineer. "We believe that a significant number of these courses could, under the new proposals, seek accreditation for the incorporated engineer category."

The council proposes to monitor entry qualifications in the short term and would build vocational qualifications into the new system. It would not expect to dictate how individuals accumulate qualificiations nor how students are taught and assessed. Organisations providing training would have to show how their approach meets published criteria and have an effective quality management system which the council itself would certify.

The council is proposing to use occupational standards as one of the vehicles for defining competence to practice. "This will allow greater precision in the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and will make such recognition less dependent on national cultures in education. With greater mobility, mutual recognition of qualifications is important," said Professor Foster.

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