USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra with SPEA President Partarp Singh, IPENZ CEO, Dr Andrew Cleland and Head of School of Engineering and Physics, Associate Professor Atul Raturi.
The recently introduced 4-year professional Bachelor of Engineering programme at USP is aiming to get professional accreditation under the Washington Accord in the not too distant future.
The School of Engineering and Physics (SEP) is working very closely with the Fiji Institute Of Engineers (FIE), the South Pacific Association of Engineers (SPEA) and the Institute of Professional Engineers, New Zealand (IPENZ) to develop a roadmap for accreditation.
The Washington Accord signed in 1988 ensures that the degrees offered by the signatory institutions are recognised in all the member countries.
At present, the signatories are Australia, Canada, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong-China, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom, and USA.
IPENZ is a founding signatory to this accord and is responsible for accrediting institutions in New Zealand.
IPENZ will work with FIE and to take SEP through the evaluation process and eventually accreditation by IPENZ.
On 22 May, 2013, The CEO of IPENZ, Dr Andrew Cleland paid a courtesy visit to the USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra. Dr Cleland was accompanied by the SPEA President and immediate past President of FIE, Mr Partarp Singh.
Dr Cleland and Mr Singh first met with senior Engineering staff, the Head of School of SEP, Dr Atul Raturi, and the Acting Dean of FSTE, Dr Bibhya Sharma.
The Head of School on behalf of all school staff thanked Dr Cleland and Mr Singh for their support and stressed that the continuous consultation are taking place with all stakeholders to make this programme viable and sustainable.
A number of new staff have been recruited and the infrastructure is being developed further; an IEEE sub-section is also being established to help in the professional development of staff and students.
The school has appointed three senior professors from New Zealand and Japan as Adjunct Professors who would be helping with the accreditation process.
In this meeting, the main tasks leading to the programme evaluation were briefly discussed. A team of IPENZ appointed assessors will be visiting USP in late 2014 and will make a preliminary assessment of USP Bachelor of Engineering programme’s readiness to go ahead with the accreditation process.
Dr Cleland mentioned a few risk factors that should be considered during this preparatory process:
• Recently, Washington Accord has upgraded the duration of the BE programme from 4.0 year to 4.5 years. This would have financial and logistical implications. He added that it is possible to front-end the extra six months.
• The quality of school leavers who would enter this programme is of paramount importance.
• The larger countries who are signatories to the Washington Accord are weary of smaller countries with limited resources trying to seek accreditation. Dr Cleland suggested that in case other signatories have major reservations, IPENZ in collaboration with FIE could accredit the programme as ‘equivalent to Washington Accord’. This, however, would need to be discussed further.
Dr Cleland and Mr Singh then met with the Vice-Chancellor. During their meeting with Professor Chandra, which was also attended by the SEP-HOS, Dr Cleland, and Mr Singh affirmed support from IPENZ, SPEA and FIE as USP moves towards the BE programme accreditation.
The Vice-Chancellor assured his commitment for the development of engineering education at USP and reiterated that the University will provide adequate resources.
Finally, the SPEA President, Mr Partarp Singh, while offering the support of his organisation, suggested that the SPEA secretariat could be housed at USP. SPEA and USP, both regional organisations will mutually benefit from this arrangement. The Vice-Chancellor agreed to this request.
The Vice-Chancellor thanked Dr Cleland and Mr Singh for their visit and said that he was looking forward to continued cooperation.
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