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Selling AMICE

New Routes to Membership: your questions answered

The ICE's promotion of its plans to dramatically increase the number of Associate Members has proved as successful as New Labour's European election campaign. Now the ICE has decided to take on the 'misconceptions' about its proposals head to head.

The ICE's campaign to promote the Associate Membership grade received strong backing from the Institution Council (see News), but members were left under no illusions that industry was far less enthusiastic.

A paper presented to Council by Dr Scott Steedman sets down 28 negative perceptions relating to the value of the Associate grade and the consequences of trying to boost its 5% share of membership. Beneath each statement is an explanation framed by Steedman and ICE director of professional development Richard Larcombe responding to what they claim are misconceptions.

Here is a selection of some of the statements complete with the ICE riposte:

AMICE is a second class qualification.

AMICE is based on a sound academic education (degree or HND/C and further learning) followed by increased workplace experience and responsibility. The profile of AMICE makes it clear that the civil engineering industry could not function without these professionals.

If you're not MICE it's not worth joining the ICE.

Yes it is. The nature of work within the industry has changed over the years and the old membership structure offered

by the ICE is no longer appropriate to the range and depth of professionals now employed.

You're just trying to halve the number of Members by pulling up ladders and forcing us to take the AMICE route.

No! It is our aim to increase numbers in all our qualified classes of Membership. It is expected that the numbers applying for Member will not significantly reduce. It is the intention that the number applying for Associate Membership will dramatically increase.

Associate Membership won't make any difference to my salary.

The ICE is campaigning to convince employers that they need to have all their potential Associate Members qualified. As this happens, there will be a positive effect on salary levels.

There is no support for the Associate Member grade among senior ICE members.

There may not appear to have been in the past. But the message now from the ICE's senior Members is that all key players in the civil engineering team should play their part in strengthening ICE's membership.

Your A Level score will determine whether you can be a civil engineer or not.

Simply not true - but it may determine the route you take. As long as your educational achievement is equivalent to a BSc for AMICE or MEng for MICE, you can become professionally qualified. This educational achievement can be gained in the workplace as well as at university.

Scottish Highers haven't been addressed.

It has been difficult to establish clear equivalents between Scottish school awards and other qualifications used as entry standards by universities. The Engineering Council and Scottish universities are still trying to do this.

Many universities will stop teaching civil engineering courses.

Some universities may stop delivering some courses. The new academic standards will help the universities to do what they are good at. So the strong ones will deliver good MEng courses; the next tranche will deliver good BEng(hons) courses; and the newer universities have a role in delivering good BSc courses. There is evidence from other engineering sectors already that courses restructured to target the BEng market have attracted large numbers of applicants.

We will lose half the potential candidates to the Chartered Institute of Building.

Chartered civil engineers and chartered builders are different types of professional. The two institutions complement one another, and aspiring civil engineers and builders will make their own choices.

It is too complex.

The Future Framework report said that the ICE should be inclusive of disciplines, classes and also of international civil engineers. If we are to include all these dimensions, some complexity is unavoidable. But what we aim to do is to make it clear.

We haven't understood the consequences.

We have done our best. We have studied the trends in Membership, talked to the industry, Members and reviewers. Over the last 20 years there has been a national movement towards a more qualified society at all levels. If we don't pursue this course there won't be an ICE in 30 years.

We shouldn't promote something we don't understand.

We do understand it. The New Routes to Membership is the first chance to place all of the ICE's professional qualifications within an integrated

framework, with a common process of assessment and review at all grades. It is intended to break down traditional barriers between civil engineers and other disciplines. It will abolish ad hoc arrangements for specialist disciplines. There are areas which need to be further refined and polished, and there will undoubtedly be further changes. In operation, new issues will come to light and will need to be addressed.

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