On the issue of members with MIET - Technician registration is an option that they may want to consider. It can't be made the default position as the requirements of each award are different. But the increasing number of technicians with degrees or other higher education qualifications suggests that MIET and TMIET criteria may have to evolve. Any changes will take time and consideration by the Board of Trustees, certainly not in my gift
The A level issue will dominate the news agenda again this week as the A level results are about to be announced. I am not familiar with the specific entry criteria for the many university courses. Therefore I could only observe that in a situation where demand exceeds supply there has to be a basis for selection or a pricing mechanism.
I am more familiar with recruitment for business where many employers will reject graduate applicants with less than a 2:1 or from certain universities. This is often not based on good evidence of a correlation between this selection criteria and subsequent performance. However it acts a filter to limit the pool of suitable applicants to a manageable level.
There is no perfect selection mechanism for education and employment (or professional body recognition for that matter). However exclusion causes disappointment, leading where there is a perception of unfairness, to potential bitterness and anger. There are still many people around who were selected and streamed at age 11 and I understand that GCEs used to be norm-referenced, rather than criterion-referenced (i.e. the bottom 40% of entrants fail). I would suggest therefore that there is an important ethics issue, which organisations seeking a good reputation or public funds need to consider. The IET is active in encouraging young people towards an engineering career in whatever its form and supporting achievement within that career, but there are other professional bodies who continue to choose a narrower and more exclusive path.
I understand that the new government is to continue work begun by the last one, leading to the report "fair access to the professions". I take this as a consensus acknowledging that "unfairness" (a concept in the eye of the beholder) exists.
My own observation is that engineering in general and the IET in particular have moved to address the issues in the last few years. The current UK-SPEC standard for professional registration describes professional competence, supported by (ideal) exemplifying qualifications, allowing for a more balanced and pragmatic approach.
A significant number of universities and colleges now specialise in providing part-time and distance learning opportunities open to experienced practitioners and closely linked to work practice. There are also significant numbers of engineers registered in the UK who demonstrated competence by acquiring their underpinning knowledge through a combination of formal, self-managed and work-based learning. Unfortunately this does cause issues in many overseas jurisdictions, where completion of specific university courses is an absolute requirement.
I am not personally aware of any disproportionate influence on the IET by Imperial College or vice-versa. I did attend a building services engineering event held at the university one evening last year and I felt socially awkward
. Entirely my own fault as the attendees were a group of quiet, studious, very internationally and ethnically diverse young people. Sometimes I can qualify as a younger member on the basis of being below the mean age of attendees, but certainly not on that occasion
Roy Bowdler IEng FIET FCIPD
IET Registration & Standards