Dual Corporate Membership is the way forward for an inclusive Institution of the 21st century, and has been delivered by the July ballot (when Associate Members were granted corporate status) and the September Council decision.
This is an evolution driven by common sense, not revolution.
Perhaps we went too far in calling it 'the single class of member' which suggested that we were merging AMICE and MICE. The most significant decision made by the Council's Working Group in response to feedback during consultation was not to merge AMICE and MICE, specifically to avoid a suggestion of dilution of our standards, despite the fact that many AMICEs are actually working at a high standard of professional skill.
The term 'dual corporate membership' better describes the structure we have created.
Dual because both MICE and AMICE have corporate status; 'corporate' means full voting rights and is not the same as 'chartered' which designates professional skill. Dual because MICE will embrace CEng and those who qualify in future through the ICE's Incorporated Professional Review (IPR) and may register as IEng.
The future higher level IPR leading to IEng requires a higher entry standard than AMICE so Council decided not to merge AMICE with MICE. AMICE will remain as a significant group of qualified members who now have corporate status as granted by the ballot in July.
In the past, MICE required a three or four year degree plus four years experience. That is what it will require in future.
There will have been a short period, during which entry to MICE was restricted to only four year degrees or their equivalent, which we are ending by making this change.
Whether registered as CEng or IEng in future, both the CEng and IEng registered engineers will be of high value and both will be equally important to industry.
We are therefore embracing them in the same class of Membership, MICE. All existing CEng MICE will retain their present designation, as will existing IEng AMICE.
To prepare for the IPR in future, an engineer will need a three year degree, around four years of training, experience and responsibility satisfying 22 core objectives, a report of his/her experience and another of a project. Then the engineer will be ready to qualify through the IPR, comprising a fifteen minute presentation, a forty five minute interview and a two hour written assignment. That was the very same basic requirement to qualify as MICE until last year.
Sartor3 had the effect of dividing our original class of MICE into two; CEng who have four year degrees or equivalent, IEng who have three year degrees with the assurance 'equally important to industry, but differently qualified for different tasks'. The Institution is now saying 'Yes, they are equally important, IEng will be a registration of high value, so we are embracing those engineers in the same class of Membership'.
It was always doubtful whether future success in a civil engineering career could be predicted from the type of degree a young person took as a result of a certain A-level point count at the age of 18. Students choose their length of degree partly for economic, rather than academic, reasons, and whatever graduates have learnt at university they very quickly have to learn so much more in the workplace in order to succeed in their chosen career. Whatever your age, to do a good job this year, you have to have learnt in the job last year.
Four or five years after graduation there will still be two levels of Review; Chartered (CPR) and Incorporated (IPR). Those with four year degrees or equivalent will feel confident in going for the CPR in their mid to late 20's to gain CEng MICE. Those with three year degrees will feel confident going for IPR in their mid 20's to gain IEng MICE, then in their early 30's transfer to CEng MICE following the acquisition of additional professional skill demonstrated through CPR. We have established the important principle that workplace learning through developing experience and responsibility may outweigh early academic achievement.
Let me now return to the decision process. Because there is no change to the membership structure, there is no change to the bylaws and therefore no ballot required. Council is simply changing the standard of entry to MICE within the bylaw framework, as it did for Sartor3 without ballot.
All the issues concerning this proposal were extensively debated by Council, by the Professional Development Committee, by Local Associations, and by Graduates and Students. An ICE Working Group was appointed by Council on 11 April to probe all the facets of this issue, culminating in a full report to Council on 12 September.
During this period a wideranging consultation was undertaken through NCE, individual correspondence, the Local Associations' committee meetings and personal contacts.
Many of the views obtained were built into the paper which Council finally debated - one of the best debates for many years - including a lengthy discussion of the need for a referendum in the knowledge that one was not legally required and the suggestion, forcibly put by two Councillors, that members may have voted differently in July had they known this.
In the end, Council decided that this was not the case and that it had been elected to provide vision and leadership, and so it should take whatever decision it properly could in the interests of the future of the Institution without referendum.
So in summary I believe we now have a framework for membership which matches the needs of our industry, will be simple for both engineers and employers to understand, and which has been properly approved in accordance with the Institution's procedures. Let us now get on and make it work!