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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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Two-year degrees: opportunity or threat to standards?
Keywords Degree courses, Engineering
The recent UK government announcement of plans to implement two-year foundation degrees may prove something of a double-edged sword, according to Peter Wason, chief executive of the Institution of Incorporated Engineers (IIE). While the sentiment is right to encourage the maximum number of individuals who can benefit from higher education to enrol, the method of achieving that objective is open to debate.
As Peter Wason says, there are already opportunities to build a strong foundation in engineering studies through the two-year Higher National Diploma, which is an eminently worthwhile qualification already well recognised by employers. It also provides an ideal foundation to enable individuals, with the equivalent of another year of study, to obtain an applications-oriented degree leading to full registration as an incorporated engineer. A growing number of colleges and universities are already embracing such schemes.
With the proposed two-year degree, well-established standards may be jettisoned in a desire to provide a broad-based introductory degree leading to nowhere in particular. It is therefore important, IIE believes, that the new courses should provide sufficient substance to obtain employer recognition, and that the links through to full three-year degrees should be carefully thought through.
The aim should be more graduates, better equipped to fulfil the needs of employers and society.
As a major stakeholder across a wide disciplinary spectrum in engineering education with a very active course accreditation service, IIE pledges its support in examining the best ways of achieving creditable content for new-style degree courses, and will work with interested parties to achieve the best outcomes for tomorrow's engineers and the companies which employ them.
Are two-year degrees a threat to standards or an opportunity? It would be of interest to hear the opinions of other interested parties.
Details available from: IIE. Tel: +44 (0) 171 836 3357; Fax: +44 (0) 171 497 9006.