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Recognition distance learning HND + BEng
Shawn
1 Posts
Dear, 

I'm a 26 y.o guy from the Netherlands. I'm currently working as a maintenance technician. Unfortunately without any diploma I can't evolve to a manager position. While looking online, I found a distance learning HND program in mechanical engineering (at Teesside University). It looks like it's equivalent to a 2 year university program and with 2 additional study years, I could obtain a BEng Top-up degree (distance learning Portsmouth university).

But I couldn't find any accreditation for those programs, so I was wondering what's their value with employers? 
As I'm not used to this accreditation system: how important is an accreditation ?
I understand that all BEng are honours degree, does this mean that I could follow a Msc degree after and get a Ceng accreditation? 

Last but not least, my girlfriend is Canadian, and who knows we might go live there one day. I found an old topic that Open University (online) degrees were not recognized because it wasn't on the Engineering Council's list. https://communities.theiet.org/discussions/viewtopic/795/13598
Did that change or it might be still a problem if we ever move over there? 

Thank you! 
 
3 Replies
Hi Shawn,

Difficult to give definitive guidance on this but when I was doing my degree at Strathclyde University (which was accredited) we had a number of students join half way through the four year course who had done an HND and were therefore exempt from the first two years of study. At the end of the process it will be the accreditation of the final degree that is critical, not the accreditation (or not) of the HND. You are also correct in that you can go HND => BEng => MSc/MEng.

With regard to the accreditation please remember that it is possible to gain CEng Registration without an accredited degree, and even with no degree at all. The lack of accredited degree just puts more onus on the candidate to demonstrate their level of learning to be equivalent to a Masters degree, but the assessors and interviewers are practiced at asking the right questions to delve into that.

With regard to Canada I will have to leave it to others to respond in that respect, but if the degree is recognised under an international agreement such as the Washington accord I would have thought there would be no issue. This may be the problem with online degrees as I suspect that the international accords only deal with Full Time residential study, though in the light of the restrictions on that during the pandemic there may be some leeway in the future.

Alasdair
Andy Millar
1740 Posts
Regarding Canada, I don't believe that whether a degree is Washington accord or not matters too much for PEng, see the requirements for e.g. Ontario here: https://www.peo.on.ca/licence-applications/become-professional-engineer/general-academic-requirements basically they assess each non-Canadian degree separately on each application. But other states in Canada may be different. In the end, I think if you can find a company in Canada that will employ you (which you realistically need first anyway in order to get PEng) then it will get sorted. 

Regarding your first question, in a previous UK company I worked for we used to regularly sponsor staff through two year top up programmes to take their HNDs to BEng. Those who decided to leave the company seemed to find other jobs with no problem at all! In my experience most UK employers simply don't know enough about the different degree programmes for it to matter - there are hundreds (thousands?) of different engineering degree programmes in the UK alone, and the poor engineering manager is quite busy enough doing their day job without spending time worrying about which exact degree a candidate has. HR departments do worry about degree grades (because that's an easy thing to measure to reject CVs if you have too many applicants), so my advice is to find the degree which you're likely to enjoy the most and therefore get the best grade in. 

However, one word of caution, an HND is not the same as the first 1 to 2 years of a degree. An HND is a vocational course ("this is how to do the stuff we already know about"), a degree is an academic course ("this is how to think about solving a problem we haven't even thought of yet"). Topping up an HND is hard work, as mentioned I've seen many do it, in particular typically a lot of additional maths study may be required. It can still be a really good thing to do, just be prepared for that change in direction. 

Cheers,

Andy
 
Roy Bowdler
820 Posts
Andy,

I found myself liking, the first two paragraphs, but perhaps a little less so the last.

However, one word of caution, an HND is not the same as the first 1 to 2 years of a degree. An HND is a vocational course ("this is how to do the stuff we already know about"), a degree is an academic course ("this is how to think about solving a problem we haven't even thought of yet"). Topping up an HND is hard work, as mentioned I've seen many do it, in particular typically a lot of additional maths study may be required. It can still be a really good thing to do, just be prepared for that change in direction.   

I was involved in the early 2000s, working with an FE College and University partner in migrating a 4-year training programme from an HND outcome to a Bachelors Degree in the same timescale. This involved creating a “Foundation Degree” with substantially the same content as the HND, which allowed seamless progression into the final degree year.

Universities have been keen historically keen to emphasise, that the mathematics content of their degrees was “higher” than a HND, following the logic that you describe. So, an HND graduate was often denied access to the final year of a degree, or required to undertake some “articulation”, like a special mathematics “top up” course.

When it came to accreditation under Engineering Council supervision, this same logic applied with maths being the main differentiator between IEng and “part CEng” (subject to “further learning”) accredited Bachelors Degrees.     
     

This isn’t a completely up to date article, but it does explore the issues, although not in an engineering context. https:/wonkhe.com/blogs/the-downfall-of-foundation-degrees/      

“Vocational versus Academic” is close to the heart of many debates here and elsewhere about “Engineers”. With “more academic” courses covered by the Washington Accord and “more vocational” by The Sydney Accord. As you observed, most employers have better things to do than worry about this, but it matters to regulators and other bureaucrats who influence academia and some employers.

In response to the original question, both Teesside and Portsmouth are Universities drawn from a more “vocational tradition” (Polytechnic) and influenced by strong links with employers in their areas (either geographic or specialist interest). I have seen many engineers gain UK registration (CEng/IEng) using their degrees as evidence.  The Open University operates differently, but is regulated by the UK government as the “equal” of other universities.  One choice of module pathway was accredited at one time, but I’m not up to date.   

If the option is readily available, a CEng accredited degree reduces the risk of any potential “problems” later, if you want CEng in the UK or state registered professional engineer elsewhere. My understanding is that Canada uses the distinction “Engineer” and “Technologist” based on the type of degree held.          
 

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