25 May 2011

Open University engineering degrees receive IMechE accreditation

The Open University has just received accreditation from The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) for its engineering degrees. This is in addition to their recent re-accreditation by the Institution of Engineering Designers (IED) and Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE). Professional membership of engineering institutions requires formal assessment and recognition of the level of experience and qualifications achieved.

Michael Hush, Design and Engineering Programme Director at The Open University said: “These new accreditations confirm the high standing of our engineering qualifications and provide a boost to the many thousands of students currently studying with us part-time. Professional membership has over recent years become a requirement for senior posts in many engineering companies, and this will be an additional benefit to our students.”

IMechE is a licensed body of The Engineering Council, which determines the requirements for accreditation. There are three classes of membership: Engineering Technician, Incorporated Engineer and Chartered Engineer. The Open University’s MEng and MSc in Engineering fully satisfy the chartered engineer requirements with the BEng(Hons) also fully satisfying the academic requirements for Incorporated Engineer status.

The Open University’s integrated MEng degrees were first accredited for CEng by the IED and CIBSE in June 2008. It recently introduced a Foundation Degree in Engineering to help accommodate the demand for education and skills at the associate professional and higher technician level. Students on the Foundation Degree can progress to the BEng (Hons) and MEng and seek to become a qualified engineer.

The Open University has around 7,000 students registered on engineering degrees. James Lockwood, 25, graduated with a BEng in April 2011. After finishing his A-levels, he turned down the opportunity to study engineering at a traditional university. “I must admit that I was a bit sceptical when I started and thought it might not be academically demanding as a traditional university, but I was proven wrong very quickly,” says James, who welcomed the support network the OU offered to students. He set himself the challenge of completing his degree in four years and was successful, despite undertaking a number of modules simultaneously to finish within his own imposed deadline. He is now planning to pursue his career in construction engineering.

Editor's notes:
The Open University (OU) is the largest higher education institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.7 million students and has more than 264,000 current students, including 20,000 overseas, learning in their own time using course materials, online activities and content, web-based forums and tutorials and through tutor groups and residential schools.

The OU has been highly rated for teaching quality, and has been at the top of student satisfaction rankings in the National Student Survey since it was introduced in 2005. 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and three out of four FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

The OU supports a vibrant research portfolio and in the UK's latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008), the University climbed 23 places to 43rd, securing a place in the UK's top 50 higher education institutions.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 11 million unique visitors, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 31 million downloads. The OU has a 40 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Life, Bang Goes the Theory, James May’s Big Ideas, Can Gerry Robinson Save Dementia Care Homes?, Saving Britain’s Past and The Money Programme.

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