The IStructE announced earlier this year that they are changing the eligibility requirements for becoming a chartered member of the Institution. From 2016, entrants with only a BEng degree will be treated in exactly the same way as entrants with an MEng degree. This means BEng graduates will no longer have to complete the labourious ‘technical report route' first, before being allowed to apply for chartership.
This significant change opens the door to thousands of BEng graduates who may previously have been put off pursuing the IStructE chartership route. The IStructE states that they consider the chartership application process itself to be rigorous and thorough enough for candidates to demonstrate they have attained the required level of experience and understanding. They recognise that although you might not have completed a Masters course at university, you can gain that Masters level knowledge in professional practice without having to complete a formal Masters degree course.
So if you decide to go for this route, and apply for IStructE chartership with a BEng degree, you should expect to be asked about your professional experience at your interview. Because the interview panel will want to see that you have gained that ‘Masters level knowledge' outside of your degree course.
As a BEng graduate, you will need to fulfill the 13 core objectives, just like MEng grads. Read our guidance on completing the 13 core objectives here.
Why has the IStructE made this change now? Well, one of the main reasons appears to be to keep the UK in line with the rest of the world. In many other countries, a Bachelor level degree is all that is needed to become eligible for chartership. In the UK we seem to have migrated more and more over time to taking Masters degree as the default option. The IStructE had to choose, either to exclude all foreign students with only Bachelor levels degrees, or to lower the barrier to entry to include BEng degrees for everyone.
MEng or BEng degree?
It seems like a sensible choice to have made, but it does raise the question for some people; is it worth completing a Masters degree? For the extra year that you spend at university, you are paying for tuition fees when you could be out in industry earning a salary, and still gaining valuable ‘Masters level experience' in the eyes of the IStructE. However, a Masters level qualification may help you to compete for a job when you do graduate, and it's necessary if you want to go on to complete a PhD. There's also the benefit of having more time to enjoy at university.
It's a difficult question that doesn't have an obvious answer. Particularly with the current high level of tuition fees, it's not a given that a university degree will always provide a good return on investment. For all prospective students, this is something to consider carefully (you are probably able to change between BEng and MEng degrees after at least the first year of your course, so there is time to make the decision).
So what do you think of this change? Has it impacted your decision to apply for chartership with the IStructE, or which degree course to apply for?