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regulating the engineering profession Accrediting Engineering Degrees: Practice and Challenges Richard Shearman Director of Formation
regulating the engineering profession 2© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved The UK engineering profession 36 professional bodies – vary in size and history Own requirements for membership Common framework provided by UK-SPEC and ECUK register of CEng, IEng and EngTech 21 accredit HE programmes Not compulsory to join or register with ECUK to work as engineer – but c. 5k new registrants p.a.
regulating the engineering profession 3© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved Engineering Council (UK) National Registration Body for Chartered Engineers, Incorporated Engineers and Engineering Technicians Sets standards for professional qualification and registration (UK-SPEC) Sets criteria for accreditation of HE programmes Licenses professional bodies to accredit programmes and assess and register individuals QA function linked to licensing Maintains database of accredited programmes Signatory to international accords
regulating the engineering profession 4© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved The value of accreditation Establishes a standard Constructive engagement between profession and HE Share good practice Aid development and innovation Kitemark and third party validation for HEI Helps graduate/professional mobility Simplifies qualification process
regulating the engineering profession Accreditation - History Began in 1960s and 1970s A different HE scene Predates national QA arrangements for universities Steady shift from input to output Can the accreditation process remain adaptable? 5© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved
regulating the engineering profession 6© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved Accreditation: key current features ECUK sets and maintains standards Outcomes-based accreditation Distributed system of accreditation Distinct from the UK’s HE quality assurance system Uses qualifications framework and descriptors as reference points International recognition
regulating the engineering profession 7© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved Current accreditation arrangements Peer review by volunteers Written submission and visit Scrutiny of student work, exam papers etc Meet with students and staff The programme not the institution Rigour and demands are balanced
regulating the engineering profession 8© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved Requirements for accreditation Focus on outcomes, not curriculum All graduates achieve all learning outcomes Clear programme aims, outcomes, assessment Evidence of industrial liaison Sufficient content at B or M level Adequately resourced
regulating the engineering profession 9© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved What about input measures? A number are considered including: - Learning and teaching processes - Department/School/Faculty organisation - Human and material resources - Cohort entry profile - Staff experience and professional status These are indicators, not metrics or showstoppers
regulating the engineering profession 10© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved The output standards Four general learning outcomes - Knowledge & Understanding, Intellectual Abilities, Practical Skills, General Transferable Skills Five Specific Learning Outcomes - Underpinning Science and Maths, Engineering Analysis, Design, Economic, Social and Environmental Context, Engineering Practice More detailed statements describe each of these Now adopted by QAA as subject benchmark
regulating the engineering profession 11© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved International Context Washington & Sydney Accords allow mutual recognition of accreditation decisions Graduate Attributes framework developed but several signatories are process-orientated Washington Accord verification visit to UK revealed differences in approach In Europe, EURACE framework for engineering accreditation More countries showing interest in accreditation (China, Russia)
regulating the engineering profession Sharing good practice Between professional bodies and between universities EAB is key to former – forum for discussion, organises joint visits, common documentation etc Websites, annual reports etc can highlight university good practice Engineering Subject Centre, EPC also have vital role 12© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved
regulating the engineering profession 13© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved The changing landscape UK demographics: less homogeneous cohorts Development of higher level skills Changing employer demands New forms of provision Increasing number of multidisciplinary programmes
regulating the engineering profession 14© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved Some challenges for accreditation Giving due recognition to work-based elements Who is responsible for assessment? Assuring level and standards in new forms of provision More individually tailored programmes – resourcing Longer completion periods Encouraging cultural shift - accreditors and others Monitoring programme change Spreading innovation and improvement
regulating the engineering profession 15© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved Distance Learning Achieving learning outcomes that are normally demonstrated in a laboratory Module choice resulting in individually tailored and/or limited programme scope Robustness of student support systems Open-ended nature and long completion periods The engineering employer’s role?
regulating the engineering profession 16© 2008 EC UK all rights reserved The way ahead? Changes tend to be in inputs rather than in outcomes Current accreditation processes are applicable Mechanisms to bring employers more fully into the process Dialogue between all: universities, professional bodies and employers
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