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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Infrastructure engineers is a collective term we use to cover any engineers working in the built environment whose main output is delivering infrastructure.

As things stand, there are many engineers working in our space and holding academic qualifications (I.e. degrees in engineering disciplines) who have chosen not to professionally qualify with their parent institution (perhaps due to relevance of the membership offer).

These engineers work alongside civil engineers, often throughout their careers. By chartering these engineers and offering membership within ICE, we bring them inside, benefit from the shared expertise and experience and assure society that those working on infrastructure projects are competent.

So, an infrastructure engineer could be from any Engineering Council-recognised discipline who satisfies ICE that their skillset can be contextualised within an infrastructure project and add value.

We coined the Chartered Infrastructure Engineer descriptor and define it to mean those engineers working alongside civil engineers and delivering projects that meet the UKSPEC standard for chartership.

There can be no dilution of the Chartered Civil Engineer. The standard for chartership is owned by the Engineering Council, conforms to UKSPEC and is immutable.

Introducing a new title will broaden the wisdom and relevance of ICE’s membership but will not dilute the standard or role of the civil engineer, which remains clearly defined and unique.

The definition of civil engineer can only be stretched so far before it becomes too vague to be useful – civil engineers require clearly defined technical knowledge based firmly on academic rigour.

There is only so much that can be squeezed into a degree, and universities and colleges are constantly trying to meet the demands of employers, government regulations, international markets, and the individual.

While a civil engineer needs to be aware of emerging technologies and how they apply in their space, they cannot be expert in them all. The infrastructure engineer will bring that expert dimension but will not (and cannot) carry out the role of the civil engineer.

There is no one-size-fits-all infrastructure engineer. They will come from a range of academic backgrounds and engineering disciplines but must be able to demonstrate to our satisfaction that their expertise can be contextualised within our world and be seen to add clear value.

There are logical reasons why over the last 200 years, the original Institution of Civil Engineers has diversified into 40 aligned engineering disciplines. How can it stand still when engineering and science has moved at such pace?

Unlike 1818, where a civil engineer was expected to cover all things engineering, developments mean that no single engineer can be expected to know everything. Civil engineering remains a key component in infrastructure delivery, but it is not the only player.

There are others involved in this space who we rely on for input and technical acuity – they might see greater relevance and synergies in qualifying with us, and we might benefit from new insights and innovation.

If we define civil engineer as anyone who is not military, then yes, we are all civil engineers. However, that is an unhelpful proposition, as the world has moved on since 1818.

There is a raft of engineering disciplines which civil engineers today cannot claim as core to their skill set – automotive engineering or aeronautical engineering to name but two. When ICE was formed, aeroplanes didn’t exist, how then could a civil engineer of 1818 claim that space?

So, we cannot do everything, but often need input from everyone. As the pace of change accelerates, ICE must ensure it remains relevant and fit for purpose.

Introducing the CIE title demonstrates that we remain agile in this space. We want to ensure that infrastructure continues to look towards ICE as its home.

We cannot claim to be the’ home of infrastructure’ if we do not offer a professional home to those working within it.

It has nothing to do with income generation – the membership offer costs ICE more than it generates from subscriptions. Thomas Telford Limited, ICE’s commercial operations, balances our finances.

This is about assuring society that its engineers are professionally qualified and therefore competent to practice. It is about evolving and ensuring that ICE remains relevant and a leader in the infrastructure space.

And it is about meeting our charitable remit to act as both a learned society and qualifying body.

The Engineering Council and Privy Council felt that Infrastructure Engineer covered the range of those that might apply for professional qualification – those not working in the infrastructure space would not be eligible.

It is worth noting that CIE is an ICE protected title and would not stand alone, it would always by followed by MICE.

So, it would be an infrastructure engineer who is a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. The Oxford English Dictionary defines infrastructure as: the basic systems and services that are necessary for a country or an organisation to run smoothly, for example buildings, transport and water and power supplies.

Others have adopted the word ‘infrastructure’ to cover any framework or system, but the MICE postnominal will make clear that the infrastructure engineer is in our space.

Attribute 1 is Understanding of Engineering and Application. The candidate will be reviewed by one civil engineer and an engineer with the defined skillset of the candidate.

The civil engineer will assess the candidate’s understanding of infrastructure space and how that skillset is contextualised within a project.

The other reviewer will assess the candidate’s proficiency and technical knowledge.

We expect initial numbers to be low. It is a new route to a professional qualification; it will require promoting with employers and will take time to prove efficacy.

In some respects, civil engineering is an old title coined in the late-1700s.

However, it has constantly reinvented itself and remains a recognised term, globally. The bedrock of civil engineering will remain intact – the skills brought to the project by civil engineers remain essential.

What will be new will be the additional complementary skills that will be inside the institution, which will allow for greater synergy, knowledge sharing and understanding.

The Joint Board of Moderators and the Engineering Accreditation Board currently accredit all engineering degrees. Applicants for CIE will likely have an accredited degree.

To that end, there is no requirement to accredit any new degrees – it is a new professional qualification rather than academic that is being introduced.

A working knowledge of data and its handling is essential. But we cannot expect civil engineers to be expert in this space.

A working-level capability in BIM is different to advanced algorithm writing or data modelling.

By way of analogy, a doctor will be expected to understand the basis or have a working knowledge of all aspects of medicine, but wouldn’t be expected to deliver across all aspects of medicine – that profession, as with our own, sees people specialising.

Expanding civil engineering to cover emerging technologies is not feasible; it is unsustainable.

For example, it took 100 years for analogue telephone technology to become ubiquitous, but less than 10 years for smartphones to achieve the same level of adoption.

Accepting that Moore’s Law may no longer hold true, it is still fair to say that the rate of technological change is such that civil engineering must look to others for input. Today, a pure civil engineering project is a very unlikely proposition.

The institution has always adapted to change. To remain relevant, we must grow and develop, otherwise our relevance is brought into question and managed decline follows.

How many established organisations, seemingly part of our landscape, have folded because they did not adapt to change? To be the home of infrastructure, we need to harness more than civil engineering alone.

We must harness the intellectual capacity and professional input of several aligned disciplines, but harnessed and moulded to fit our needs within the built environment, rather than elsewhere.

2021 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.

These changes to the ICE’s Royal Charter and By-laws were approved by the Privy Council at its meeting on 10 November 2021 and will come into effect from 30 November 2021 – Royal Charter and By-laws 2021.

Previous governance updates

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. Member login required.
  • 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.

Do you have any questions?

If you would like more information about any of the proposed governance changes, please contact the Governance Office on: