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BEng graduates face delay on chartered status route

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HUNDREDS OF BEng civil engineering students will graduate this summer without knowing whether they can seek chartered status, it emerged this week.

It is feared they will be unable to obtain the academic training they need ahead of the chartered professional review because universities have been unable to get so called 'matching section' courses accredited.

Matching sections aim to bring BEng (Hons) graduates up to MEng standard before they can progress towards the chartered review.

The measures were outlined in the Engineering Council's standard raising document Standards and routes to registration 3rd Edition 1997 (SARTOR 3). A matching section is equivalent to one year's further study, and is likely to take the form of an adapted MSc.

But the Council has so far failed to accredit any matching section courses for the engineering professions. As a result universities hoping to offer matching sections to this year's graduates are unable to do so.

'Our students are asking us what they should be doing, and all we can say is pray, ' a source from one university awaiting accreditation told NCE this week. 'When you bear in mind that SARTOR 3 is dated 1997, they have had five years to address this situation.'

The Institution of Civil Engineers has urged BEng (Honours) graduates not to panic about the lack of courses which are expected to handle up to 1,200 students over the next three years. It will immediately affect up to 500 graduates this year.

ICE professional development director Jon Prichard this week said that the ICE was now ready to start approving courses.

'Guidance in SARTOR 3 was vague, so the ICE formed a working group to produce generic guidance notes, ' said Prichard.

'The Engineering Council has now granted the ICE a licence to approve matching sections, and we have a selection to consider for approval.'

A team from the ICE/Institution of Structural Engineers Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) is considering courses offered by Napier, Sheffield, Coventry, UCL and Portsmouth universities. It is also looking at a work-based course proposed by consultant Babtie.

The JBM will announce its decision at its next meeting on 5 July, but a university source told NCE: 'Our students will be long gone by 5 July. Educationally it is a year lost - how many graduates will want to come back and study a matching section after a year or more in industry?'

Graduates with BEng degrees accredited to CEng and determined to head straight into industry have two choices, Prichard advised: 'At the end of the day, the goal is a professional qualification. The choice is to get a good employer who will sponsor you to take a matching section MSc leading to CEng, or convert to IEng through work based experience.

'The most important thing for any graduate is find an employer that offers good training and meets their aspirations and expectations as a person, ' Prichard added.

INFOPLUS For matching sections guidance notes visit www. ntu. ac. uk/emsie

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