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Is it important to have a Washington Accord degree?
Andy Millar
1763 Posts
Question
Following up on a couple of threads here, does anyone here have experience on whether NOT having a Washington Accord degree (e.g. an IET accredited degree) makes it harder to get jobs in any particular countries?

Or, to put it the other way around, whether having one does actually make it easier in particular countries?

It's a question that frequently comes up here, and I don't ever remember seeing an answer.

Personally I don't remember ever hearing engineers saying they had a problem with mobility to any country, whatever their qualifications, (even to Canada, provided their process is followed), but I'd hesitate to say I have enough experience to say that this really isn't something to be concerned about.

Thanks,

Andy
9 Replies
mbirdi
1035 Posts
Andy, perhaps on a wider field, we should question why the IET and EC want everyone to be aware of accredited degrees below:

https://www.theiet.org/search?q=Accredited+degree+list
Andy Millar
1763 Posts
I did find this in the coffee break, a degree from a Washington Accord accredited body does seem to be important if you want to a visa to work in Australia:
Subclass 476
Skilled—Recognised Graduate visa
You must have completed your engineering qualification at a specified educational institution. Any institution offering an Engineering qualification accredited under the Washington Accord is a specified institution.
https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/skilled-recognition-graduate-476#Eligibility
Although interestingly, note that this doesn't say the specific degree programme itself has to be accredited, only that the institution that awards it has to offer accredited degrees. Has anyone here got direct or indirect experience of trying to move to Australia? 

A Google of "Washington Accord Visa" didn't show up any similar requirements for other countries.

For other reasons I have been looking at requirements to practice as an engineer in Canada, which has the most restrictive regime that I've personally come across. From what I have found CIBSE put it very well:
Whilst Engineers Canada is a signatory of the Washington Accord, the provincial bodies do not consistently recognise this, so the transfer from CEng to PEng is not smooth.
Even then, the Provincial Bodies I've been involved with seem to be interested in CEng, not the underlying degree.

Cheers,

Andy
Andy Millar
1763 Posts
mbirdi:
Andy, perhaps on a wider field, we should question why the IET and EC want everyone to be aware of accredited degrees below:

I think that's an easy one to answer: the role of the EC and the PEIs is to raise (or at least maintain) standards in the engineering profession, so accrediting degrees is a sensible way of doing this, and in principle a Good Thing. As is trying to achieve a level (high) playing field of engineering excellence across the world, which is the aim of the Washington Accord.

But for the up and coming engineer who doesn't yet have an accredited degree, they need information to make the individual judgement "What is the value I personally will get from spending x thousands of (insert currency here) and y years of my life on getting an accredited degree? Or doing this appealing  but non-accredited degree as compared to this less appealing but accredited degree? Will I be trapped if I don't do it?" And that last question is a particularly good and important one, hence this thread...

Cheers,

Andy 

Roy Bowdler
820 Posts
My understanding is that a degree has to have graduates, before it can be accredited.

Accreditation is carried out in accordance with Engineering Council regulations and guidance. The regulations are developed by academics, for academics, accreditation “audit” visits are also carried out by panels with strong academic representation, responsible to the IET Academic Accreditation Committee.

About a dozen years ago, I became involved in an initiative for which Engineering Council had received government funding. This was called “Engineering Gateways” and partner universities offered programmes called “MSc in Professional Engineering”.  Because each programme of study was individually bespoke and designed around work-based learning opportunities, accreditation was deemed impractical. To work around this it was agreed that institutions would deem each individual study plan “acceptable” to them as “further learning”.

The IET developed a simple mechanism to deal with this, but some other institutions were mired in pedantry. Until about 15 years ago, many professional engineering institutions were infamous for being very “snooty” about their “academic requirements” and some key influencers within them were unwilling to accept the change of attitude that was needed. How each has subsequently evolved is open to debate?
Roy Bowdler
820 Posts
The issues around international comparisons have been discussed in these forums over the years, but probably not much recently.

For example, if I recall correctly an MEng is not deemed to be a Masters Degree in Malaysia. This arguably isn’t unreasonable, as it is an “extended undergraduate degree” not “post graduate”. Some countries are concerned more with length of courses than outcomes.  

There is also the issue of “Engineering” versus “Engineering Technology” Degrees, or in UK language CEng versus IEng accredited degrees (an increasingly rare breed) or Washington Accord v Sydney Accord. The common factor being that more selective and demanding degrees in terms of Mathematics & Science are seen as “more suitable” preparation for Engineers, with any emphasis on “applications” considered more appropriate for an “associate engineer” or “Technologist”.

Different states or provinces in North America have different rules, with many having their own examinations. Likewise, Australian States have differences.

The variety of stakeholders having effective control over engineering education and training varies considerably around the world. The International Engineering Alliance was intended to help mobility, but is focussed largely on academic matters. Some governments are open and flexible, based on the needs of their economy, others are in thrall to various vested interests from influential academics, major employers, or even Trades Unions (or professional institutions).

By it very nature, accreditation of qualifications will attract bureaucrats, lawyers and other associated pedants. Engineers themselves often feel strongly about “maintaining standards”, which can mean a focus on what they think makes them “better” than other engineers. Proficiency (during university at least) in calculus is a popular touchstone.

All I can really advise any IET member contemplating a particular academic course, is to research its merits before investing. As Andy has said, many employers are not particularly concerned about accreditation, although some may use it as a selection filter. Others may target specific courses on the basis of wider university reputation, their own experience and/or prejudices. Selection by social class isn’t as prevalent in engineering as in some other professions, but it certainly exists.       
 
I can only offer my opinion and anecdotal experience, which may not be representative.

I've worked on the continent (Switzerland, Germany and Austria) for a while now and having a degree is more or less essential for professional engineering roles, in a couple of interviews I have been asked what exactly the course covered and how it compared to their local qualifications. 

However, I would doubt people outside the circles of the professional engineering institutions know what the Washington Accord is, so I would say it's not important. At least not to employers.

It would be enlightening to see some feedback from employers about these sort of questions. I wonder if the IET and other PEIs go in for this sort of thing.

Different point. Roy:
 
Roy Bowdler:
The common factor being that more selective and demanding degrees in terms of Mathematics & Science are seen as “more suitable” preparation for Engineers, with any emphasis on “applications” considered more appropriate for an “associate engineer” or “Technologist”.
 

In my opinion this is a filter to select people perceived to the best the academic system has to offer, rather than because these specific advanced maths and science skills are required for most engineers. 

Roy Bowdler
820 Posts
Jonathan,

I agree with you about “filtering”.  

A declared “primary purpose” of CEng has long been to signify membership of an “elite” group of engineers. Historically, this was attained by election to the membership of a “learned society”, having gained some career distinction.

Later, many such bodies operated their own “entry” examinations to introduce a more “objective” element. These varied in relevance, but there was a time when carrying out complex calculations, was more important than today.

For most of the Engineering Council era (founded 1981), filtering has been carried out an academic basis. This filtering must therefore be carried out pre-career, since most people are done with their academic involvement by early 20s. Washington Accord (International Engineering Alliance) is the international treaty developed to help regulate this academic filtering system.    
              

As I see it Universities should develop students according to their talents and motivation. If that means nurturing an outstanding mathematician or scientist, then that is to be celebrated. However, the world of engineering needs a much wider balance of skills, talents and personalites.  Doesn’t it?
 
Andy Millar
1763 Posts
Jonathan Knowles:
I can only offer my opinion and anecdotal experience, which may not be representative.

I've worked on the continent (Switzerland, Germany and Austria) for a while now and having a degree is more or less essential for professional engineering roles, in a couple of interviews I have been asked what exactly the course covered and how it compared to their local qualifications. 
 

Hi Jonathan,
That's certainly been my experience talking to my colleagues (including engineering managers) in mainland Europe (Spain, Germany, Poland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden).
Most people I know who have relocated to a different country have relocated with the employer - I've worked in multinationals for 95% of my career - and in those cases I've never heard of anyone having to demonstrate anything at all to be allowed to work in the country they've moved to. But again, although this covers every continent, it doesn't cover every country - and there might have been stuff going on behind the scenes I wasn't always aware of.
.
Thanks,
Andy

 

I have lived and worked in Australia for 23 years now and can confirm that having a degree qualification that meets Washington Accord requirements would be far preferable (if you're planning to settle down here) to having a qualification that wasn't.

IE Aust offers minimal recognition of any accreditation below CEng so go for that if you can, whilst the Board of Professional Engineers Queensland will require such to allow you to legitimately practice as an RPEQ in that state (and they offer no acknowledgement of any accords).

Just a thought...

 

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