Director of professional development Richard Larcombe believes that there is much goodwill in the industry to make New Routes to Membership work. But was this goodwill manifest in a packed audience at Reading Town Hall last week?
Supervising Civil Engineer: Will new training schemes be registered straight away?
Answer: During 1999.
Graduate: I'm half way through my training scheme. Does New Routes to Membership affect me?
Richard Larcombe: New training schemes have until the end of this year to transfer over to the new core objectives: existing training schemes will still apply under the old rules. If you qualified under SARTOR 90, there is no bar to chartered status. People under existing training schemes will work to existing core objectives. What you've got you keep.
Graduate: How will the new Professional Review be different?
Larcombe: The format has changed little apart from the interview itself which will be up to 15 minutes longer to give candidates more time to show their commitment to the profession.
Graduate: I will be taking my Professional Review in two or three years time but I'm on a training scheme without the new core objectives. Do I need them?
ICE training manager Gareth Jones: Reviewers don't check core objectives, that's left to SCEs. But if you comply to the new core objectives, it will give you very good competence to get through the Professional Review.
Group training manager: What's your view about the universities?
Larcombe: Raising standards has led to tears in one or two academic eyes. Westminster, Queen Mary & Westfield and Teesside have closed their civil engineering departments. We just hope that universities will provide what they are best at. Some would be wise to stick to the BEng market, for example.
Graduate: It's going to be more difficult to pass the Professional Review. Will there be a higher failure rate?
Scott Steedman: It's up to us all to make sure that doesn't happen.
Graduate: How will the matching section for BEng candidates wanting to go for the member grade be funded?
Larcombe: The Engineering Council is currently talking to the Higher Education Funding Council.
SCE: What are you doing to do to make the requirements known to new university entrants, course operators and teachers?
Larcombe: Immediate Past President Alan Cockshaw made contact with universities and schools via the local association network. He targeted 11 and 12 year olds thinking about GCSE choices and sixth-formers thinking about university courses. Each university has a student liaison officer, whose job it is to prime students about the changes afoot.
SCE: I'm not quite clear what the extra year at university is designed for.
Larcombe: The extra year of an MEng concentrates on non-engineering sections such as health and safety, environment and interdisciplinary group projects.
Graduate: What are the other Institutions doing? It seems to me that they are doing very little, in which case it makes what the Institution is doing pretty meaningless.
Larcombe: All Institutions have signed up to Engineering Council SARTOR reforms. We have taken the lead, but it's up to Engineering Council to ensure that the others are raising their standards. There should be a level playing field.