Governance updates

Over the past few years, the ICE trustees have implemented several changes to modernise the governance of the Institution.

Following extensive consultation with Council and the membership, the trustees have recommended changes which will require amendments to the Royal Charter and By-laws. Members will be asked to approve the following changes in the ballot opening in February 2022.

Broadening Membership and the “Chartered Infrastructure Engineer” qualification

In 2016, the ICE, IET and IMechE commissioned Professor John Uff CBE QC FREng to undertake a wide-ranging review of the engineering professional landscape. The final report was published in March 2017 as the Uff Review.

The Institution has spent the intervening years addressing many of the recommendations: we have improved advice to government(s); promoted civil engineering in schools; shared engineering knowledge with a raft of organisations; accredited a broader range of academic courses and looked at how to engage and support members of the engineering profession who are not currently professionally registered.

After much debate, the Trustees recommend that the Institution should apply to register the protected title of ‘Chartered Infrastructure Engineer’. It is important to note that registration for Chartered Engineer (CEng) remains with the Engineering Council; as a professional engineering institution, we are licensed to assess and qualify aspiring engineers to that standard.

The title Chartered Infrastructure Engineer is a protected title, like the Chartered Civil Engineer descriptor – and as such it would be “owned” by ICE to recognise chartered engineers in our part of the engineering profession. The qualifying process (educational standard, professional development, and professional review) would remain at the same very high standard we set our chartered civil engineers.

That standard is sacrosanct and retaining our Engineering Council Licence is dependent upon applying consistent and robust assessment standards.

ICE Council debated the issue at length and asked if the Institution might amend its Royal Charter and By-laws to incorporate the new protected title of 'Chartered Infrastructure Engineer'. The Engineering Council and British Government have agreed that the Institution can apply to effect those changes through the Privy Council.

Trustees agreed that the ICE should apply to incorporate this new descriptor to permit non-civil engineers working in infrastructure who, at professional review, are able to demonstrate contextualised competence and experience, to be awarded the Institution's qualification of ‘Chartered Infrastructure Engineer’.

Trustees feel that it is important to stress that there is no suggestion that people who do not hold the necessary engineering qualifications and competence would be able to pass the Chartered Infrastructure Engineer professional review. All Chartered Engineer professional qualifications, while awarded by one of the Professional Engineering Institutions, derive from a licence issued by the Engineering Council.

Trustees are very clear that this standard is inviolable.

To be successful, a candidate would need to demonstrate Master's degree level understanding of engineering knowledge within the context of infrastructure. This is exactly the same as for all other CEng qualifications.

Most applicants for Chartered Civil Engineer hold a Master’s degree accredited by the Joint Board of Moderators or, particularly for degrees awarded outside the UK, recognised by our own Academic Qualifications Panel as being equivalent. Some do not, but still wish to be Chartered Civil Engineers.

Those candidates either submit a technical report and attend an interview to demonstrate their ‘academic’ knowledge, or they undertake further learning as directed by the Academic Qualifications Panel.

The Institution would expect the same academic and experiential rigour from candidates seeking to be awarded the Chartered Infrastructure Engineer qualification.

Both Council and Trustees see this as a significant opportunity for the Institution and recommend very strongly that the membership approves the proposal in a member ballot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does allowing those non-civil engineers qualifying with Chartered Infrastructure Engineer dilute the status of the Institution?

On the contrary. By broadening the skillset of those professionally qualified by the ICE, we hope to become a beacon to all those who seek to prove their competence within infrastructure. The Institution of Civil Engineers would remain the oldest and foremost civil engineering body in the world.

These professionals have their own institutions to join

It is true that those who would become Chartered Infrastructure Engineers are academically qualified in a range of technical disciplines and could seek professional registration elsewhere. However, in many cases, the aspirant Infrastructure Engineer is working within civil engineering.

Could this new protected title lead to confusion?

Firstly, the qualification Chartered Engineer (CEng) remains with the Engineering Council register. This qualification is globally recognised and remains untouched – there can be no confusion here. The protected title would be owned by ICE so in the same way as a member passing ICE’s professional review is able to describe themselves as Chartered Civil Engineer, the new title would allow an engineer, passing professional review to describe themselves as Chartered Infrastructure Engineer. Confusion between the two cohorts is unlikely.

Could a Chartered Infrastructure Engineer pass themselves off as a civil engineer?

It is unlikely that they would want to. But if they did, the ICE Code of Professional Conduct. demands that engineers only undertake tasks for which they are competent. Any divergence from this clear ruling would result in disciplinary action and potential removal from the Engineering Council register.

Would we be better ensuring that Chartered Civil Engineer enters the ICE vocabulary rather than a new title?

The two issues are separate. It is true that most members do not use the protected title Chartered Civil Engineer, and that remains their prerogative. However, the Infrastructure Engineer is not eligible to use the Civil title and therefore could only use their own descriptor.

It makes you think that the Institution is lowering their standards just to get more members and hence more subscriptions coming in.

The standards remain immutable. Retention of the Engineering Council license requires the Institution to demonstrate the highest standards and this cannot change. Any individual being reviewed for Chartered status would be reviewed by trained reviewers, one civil engineer and one of the applicant’s specialism – both would be recognised by the ICE and Engineering Council as being suitable to undertake assessment in line with existing standards.

With regards to increasing subscription income, there is no correlation between numbers and excess funds. ICE’s outgoings on delivering the membership offer exceeds the income from subscriptions – the delta is met by the annual gifting of profits by TTL.

The ICE Charter expects us to act as a learned society and qualifying body, our Vision demands that we improve lives by ensuring that the world has the engineering capacity and infrastructure systems, it needs to allow our planet and those that live on it to thrive. It has never been about making ‘profit’ as 100% of revenue and TTL’s profits are reinvested in delivering against the vision.

Why do these (potential) Chartered Infrastructure Engineer not look towards joining other PEIs?

One would expect those who commit to becoming professionally qualifying to seek the premier institution rather than another body (although it should be noted that the CEng qualification is the same minimum standard across all PEIs). However, it is ICE that has secured the Chartered Infrastructure Engineer title – no other professional body would be able to offer that qualification.

Why can these (potential) Chartered Infrastructure Engineer not join ICE as AMICE?

In most cases they could. However, the AMICE grade is aimed at those who are already professionally qualified within their own sectors and wish to gain a deeper understanding of our sector or who wish to network and develop closer links with civil engineering companies or the Institution – AMICE is not a professional qualification, it is a knowledge grade. Those seeking professional qualification will not achieve it through AMICE.

How can these (potential) Chartered Infrastructure Engineer be assessed against the Professional Review attributes?

The seven Professional Review attributes are generic across most engineering disciplines except for Attribute 1, which is technical. A civil engineer would need to demonstrate their skillset in the context of civil engineering, usually based on a technical report and demonstrate their technical abilities and experience against it.

The infrastructure engineer would need to demonstrate their own skillset (based on their specialism) contexualised within civil engineering. The standard of technical competence would remain the same as would all other aspects of the review – the difference would be the technical report on which they would be questioned and their role within the project.

If ICE does not secure the Chartered Infrastructure title, who else might?

There is always much activity in the infrastructure space – it remains ill-defined and there are many who would seek to lay claim to it. There is always a chance that other PEIs, keen to broaden and stamp their authority within the sector, might choose to claim the title and qualification. As things stand, the Engineering Council’s Privy Council and Governance Panel (PC&GP) and the UK government have agreed that ICE can claim the title, the qualification and we hope those technically excellent engineers working with our clients, consultants, and contractors. To do so requires membership support at ballot.

What do the President and Trustees want?

Successive presidents have recognised the need for ICE to maintain its influence and relevance within society. There are many different skillsets required to successfully deliver complex civil engineering projects. To fail to recognise the importance of the data analyst, the acoustic engineer and those whose skills are assimilated into the fabric of what we call civil engineering, is to ignore the fact that digitisation of our space is advanced, and disruption needs to be managed.

We need all those working with our employers, whose focus remains the successful delivery of infrastructure, whilst also combatting the climate emergency and meeting government carbon targets, to be inside the tent working with us rather than outside, looking in.

The President and trustees are clear that we remain the Institution of Civil Engineers and those joining our professional ranks must demonstrate their professional competence in the context of civil engineering. It is incumbent upon us to meet Professor John Uff’s call to action and provide technically proficient engineers with a professional home.

Rather than introduce a second descriptor through the Chartered Infrastructure Engineer qualification, why not broaden eligibility for Chartered Civil Engineer and allow more candidates through this route?

The definition of a civil engineer can only be stretched so far before it begins to lose credibility. The challenges facing civil engineering and construction continue to demand ever broader skillsets but the academic basis which constitutes civil engineering cannot be a catch all – we need the hard science which underpins infrastructure delivery to be provided to our engineers and for others to bring new broader skills into our space.

In terms of gaining sufficient experience (IPD) before sitting review, the same holds true. The core business of delivering civil engineering programmes limits how many different attributes can be covered off pre-review – the more skills required, the less time for core experience to be gained.

Instead, introducing the chartered infrastructure engineer title allows a much broader range of aligned skills to join the Institution, thereby strengthening ICE’s position (and relevance) going forward.

While we would be the only PEI with two descriptors (protected titles) (i.e., can professionally qualify non- civil engineers with ICE), many other PEIs have a much broader range of disciplines under their mantle and many others have broadened by decoupling membership from qualifications.

The Institution is proposing equity and inclusion. Rather than offer membership postnominals without a qualification, the proposal is to provide chartership to those working in our space and for their membership to be on an equal footing to our 68,000 qualified civil engineers.

Why can’t we adjust the post nominal CEng MICE to make it clear who is a civil engineer and who is an infrastructure engineer?

The Engineering Council owns the CEng title – it cannot be altered by any of the 40 PEIs. The CEng title is protected and is internationally recognised. MICE denotes a member of ICE who has passed professional review – we own the MICE postnominal and although we could change it through member ballot, MICE simply designates membership of ICE and not a specific skillset.

Many other PEIs have postnominals (for example MIET) where the holder could still be studying at university rather than a practising engineer, post review – they have decoupled membership from qualification – ICE will not.

To address the concerns of those who feel that the award of CEng MICE might confuse employers and the public, qualified members can utilise the Chartered Civil Engineer descriptor or the Chartered Infrastructure Engineer descriptor. This could be used on business cards, signature blocks and on CVs thereby removing any risk of confusion.

It is worth reminding ourselves that the Code of Professional Conduct states that all members shall only undertake work that they are competent to do. Employers will always look at an individual’s skills, qualifications and experience – being offered a role purely on the basis of a postnominal is unlikely.

Previous Governance Updates

In 2021, the membership voted to amend the Institution’s Royal Charter and By-laws to re-designate Technician Members as ‘Corporate Members’ with full voting rights. Members also voted to extend the voting rights of Graduate members to entitle them to vote on subscription rate changes, elections of Ordinary Members to the Trustee Board, elections of members to the Council and resolutions at Annual General Meetings and Special General Meetings.

Members also approved changes to the By-laws to amend the Rules of Professional Conduct in line with best practice; to remove defunct and inactive membership grades and to correct the document’s syntax.

In 2019, the ICE Council and Trustee Board agreed in full the findings from the Presidential Commission’s Final Report. The recommendations of this report have now been implemented.

A number of the findings of the Presidential Commission aimed to improve the transparency in the Institution’s governance processes. Below are some examples of the changes we have incorporated.

  • Volunteer Handbook – provides useful advice on how members can get more engaged with ICE.
  • Terms of Reference - current Terms of Reference for the Trustee Board, Council, Nomination Committee and the main standing committees which report to the Trustee Board.
  • Governance Handbook – serves as a simple guide to ICE Governance and is updated each year to reflect emerging best practice. It is available on the Trustee Board page on the ICE website.
  • Trustee Board Minutes – minutes are published after each Trustee Board meeting once approved by the chair and are then confirmed once approved at the subsequent meeting.
  • President’s Calendar – details past and forthcoming events so that members may be aware of the President’s considerable activities.
  • Annual and Special General Meetings – provides details about our Annual General Meetings, Annual Reports and Special General Meetings.

The Commission’s Findings also required changes to the Disciplinary Regulations and the Terms of Reference for a number of the principal committees of the Institution. The most up to date versions of the Disciplinary Regulations can be found on the Royal Charter, By-Laws and Regulations webpage. The Boards, Committees and Panels webpage is regularly updated with the current terms of reference of the Institution.

More Information

For more information on the Presidential Commission’s findings and to read the final report, please visit the Presidential Commission page.

If you would like more information about any of the proposed governance changes, please email [email protected].