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A level measure set to go

DEGREE STANDARDS rather than A level points could become the benchmark for engineers seeking chartered status, according to new plans to be launched next month.

If the Engineering Council adopts the proposals, engineers will be able to seek chartered status even if they fail to get the 24 A level points they would need under the Standards and Routes to Registration.

The Quality Assurance Agency was set up by the Department for Education & Employment to develop university output standards in 14 academic subjects.

It has asked the Engineering Professors Council to develop the first degree standard for engineering disciplines by the end of the year. Work will then focus on how to check output standards and tailor them specifically to civil engineering.

Round table discussions have already taken place between the EPC, Engineering Council, QAA and the Engineering Employers Federation.

EngC's Director of Engineers' Regulation Andrew Ramsay told chairman of the Engineering Professors Council Barry Plumb that if the output standards were 'robust enough', abandoning A level points as the bench mark of SARTOR was 'a very real possibility'.

Plumb said: 'There is much support from universities to succeed with an output standard because so many of us think that SARTOR input standards are wrong and are anxious to develop an alternative.'

University professors will be urged at the EPC annual assembly next month to agree on a generic description of the term engineer.

Chairman of the EPC output standards committee Derek Spurgeon said he was confident that resistance to SARTOR input standards would spur academics to agree a generic description that would be interchangeable between engineering disciplines.

Sceptics who were shown initial work carried out by the committee to define the way engineers think about a problem are now ready to sign up to an output standard, claimed Spurgeon. The current draft definition of 'engineer' is: 'someone who translates a conceptual model into a working one by using calculations'.

The QAA initiative is being steered by an overview group including EPC, EngC and EEF.

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