THE ENGINEERING Council has threatened to strip the ICE of its licence to professionally qualify engineers unless swift changes are made to its professional qualification process, NCE learned this week.
The EngC issued the ultimatum after its auditors found that elements of the ICE's current professional qualification arrangements are not in line with the Engineering Council's Standards & Routes to Registration 3 rules under which standards of entry into the profession have risen.
It has given the ICE six months to demonstrate that it is improving its procedures in certain areas of professional qualification or else lose its accreditation and with it the use of the titles CEng and IEng.
Auditors are particularly concerned with the ICE's current guidelines for professional reviewers, claiming they are not auditable. They want the guidelines re-written with more emphasis on quality assurance.
If this is not done to the Engineering Council's satisfaction then the ICE's licence will be revoked from 2002.
In response to the news, chief executive Mike Casebourne said this week that the Engineering Council's auditors had found most of the ICE processes 'in accordance with its own high standards'.
But he added: 'The auditors noted that the ICE's implementation of SARTOR 3 requires certain modifications to those processes. We have a year to create those modifications'.
EngC auditors are also demanding the scrapping of the ICE's proposed changes to the mature candidate route to membership amid concern that the new streamlined route would not be rigorous enough.
The Institution was planning to streamline the current system by combining the two senior routes for candidates with an approved academic qualification and those without. The current process was viewed as 'convoluted' and not attractive for senior level engineers.
The EngC's censure of the ICE's standards comes at a time when the ICE has been attempting to head off EngC plans to become the voice of the industry.
The EngC has been undergoing a review of its function over the last year. A recent EngC report said that its ultimate goal should be for it to become the 'focal organisation for government and the wider engineering community'.
However, the ICE, along with the other major engineering institutions, is thought to be concerned that this would result in the dilution of the particular messages that it wants to present. The Institution believes that the role of the Engineering Council should remain one of accreditation only.
The Engineering Council declined to comment this week.