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Engineering degree accreditation best practice updated

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engineering allianceSome 26 countries around the world have agreed new and updated best practice in the accreditation of engineering degree programmes described in a document entitled 'Best Practice in Engineering Programme Accreditation'.

The document represents a joint initiative between ENAEE and the International Engineering Alliance, which comprises the so-called Washington, Sydney and Dublin Accords.

The countries include many EU member states and also several non-European nations, including the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Kore, Malaysia, Singapore and India.

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The best practice document adopted at the general assembly is significant because it represents an agreement and common understanding of best practice in engineering accreditation by the 26 countries and agencies.

It is intended for use partly by bodies setting up as accreditation agencies or existing agencies as they update their policies and procedures. It does not impact directly on education providers but, rather, helps to shape the accreditation system.

The overall aim of the new guidelines, which were formally launched at a ceremony in Brussels on Tuesday, is to "raise the bar" for engineering degree programmes.

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Denis McGrath, vice president of the Brussels-based European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education (ENAEE), said, "These are important guidelines which represent a major contribution towards the development of high quality engineering education in Europe and further afield."

Speaking at the meeting, McGrath said, "This is very significant, particularly when you consider that no less than 26 countries worldwide have come together to agree on what are some basic principles for the engineering profession.

"We all want what is best for engineering students and this international partnership is proof of that."

The other significant document launched was the "EUR-ACE Framework Standards and Guidelines" (EAFSG) which represents a set of agreed standards for programme evaluation, covering 13 authorized agencies in 13 European countries.

The documents were formally unveiled at the ENAEE general assembly at Cercle Lorraine in Brussels.

Professions such as engineering carry out work which directly affects the lives of the public and in order that these actions are carried out safely and ethically, graduates must possess specific competences. To ensure that engineering education programmes produce graduates who possess such competences, they are subject to accreditation and labelling by their professional bodies.

Through its labelling scheme, the EUR-ACE system provides a set of standards to identify high quality engineering degree programmes in both Europe and internationally.

The EUR-ACE quality label is verification of high quality engineering education and also provides employers with a quality label when evaluating academic qualifications.

"Such peer review accreditation systems are major contributors to the development of high quality engineering education," commented Vice-President McGrath.

The EAFSG guidelines, published in July, relate in part to "programme outcomes", in other words, the knowledge, understanding and skills which an accredited engineering degree programme must enable a graduate to demonstrate.

Programmes seeking the label should demonstrate that they are managed according to quality assurance principles.

The Brussels launch comes in the wake of the decision in November last year to sign a "mutual recognition" agreement under which all agencies accept each other's accreditation. It was adopted by 13 ENAEE authorised agencies.

Bernard Remaud, President of EUR-ACE, told the general assembly that ENAEE is "rooted" in the so-called Bologna process which aims at building a European higher education area.

Since 2006, when ENAEE was founded, the EUR-ACE label has been awarded to more than 2,000 engineering programmes in more than 300 universities in 28 countries.

Remaud said, "The label has, therefore, proven its reliability and adaptability. However, after eight years of implementation, it has been decided that the time has come to revise the EAFSG  document, not by altering its fundamental standards but to reflect diversity and provide  all that is necessary to enter the engineering profession."

Looking to the future, he told the 50-strong audience there was "still work to do" adding, "We are steadily increasing the number of labels we award (about 400 per year) but we still go into too few countries. We have to address this along with raising our international visibility."

The recently-upgraded ENAEE database of accredited engineering degree programmes is available free of charge and contains a list of all the engineering degree programmes which have been awarded the EUR-ACE label.

It is particularly useful for employers who can check that an engineering degree programme undertaken by a job applicant has been accredited and awarded a EUR-ACE label. Statistical analysis of engineering degree programmes is also available via the database (www.enaee.eu).

The information it contains will also be useful for students who can search for a programme in engineering to check if a programme has been accredited and given the EUR-ACE quality label.

Universities can also access information on the engineering qualification of an engineering graduate who is being considered for enrolment on a Master or PhD degree.

European Commission

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €231 million in pre-financing to Slovenia

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The European Commission has disbursed €231 million to Slovenia in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's grant allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €2.5 billion in total, consisting of €1.8bn in grants and €705m in loans, over the lifetime of its plan. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80 billion in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU.

The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will provide €800bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states. The Slovenian plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Cyprus

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €157 million in pre-financing to Cyprus

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The European Commission has disbursed €157 million to Cyprus in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €1.2 billion in total over the lifetime of its plan, with €1 billion provided in grants and €200m in loans. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states.

The Cypriot plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Belgium

EU Cohesion policy: Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy receive €373 million to support health and social services, SMEs and social inclusion

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The Commission has granted €373 million to five European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) operational programmes (OPs) in Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy to help the countries with coronavirus emergency response and repair in the framework of REACT-EU. In Belgium, the modification of the Wallonia OP will make available an additional €64.8m for the acquisition of medical equipment for health services and innovation.

The funds will support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in developing e-commerce, cybersecurity, websites and online stores, as well as the regional green economy through energy efficiency, protection of the environment, development of smart cities and low-carbon public infrastructures. In Germany, in the Federal State of Hessen, €55.4m will support health-related research infrastructure, diagnostic capacity and innovation in universities and other research institutions as well as research, development and innovation investments in the fields of climate and sustainable development. This amendment will also provide support to SMEs and funds for start-ups through an investment fund.

In Sachsen-Anhalt, €75.7m will facilitate cooperation of SMEs and institutions in research, development and innovation, and provide investments and working capital for micro-enterprises affected by the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, the funds will allow investments in the energy efficiency of enterprises, support digital innovation in SMEs and acquiring digital equipment for schools and cultural institutions. In Italy, the national OP ‘Social Inclusion' will receive €90m to promote the social integration of people experiencing severe material deprivation, homelessness or extreme marginalisation, through ‘Housing First' services that combine the provision of immediate housing with enabling social and employment services.

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In Spain, €87m will be added to the ESF OP for Castilla y León to support the self-employed and workers who had their contracts suspended or reduced due to the crisis. The money will also help hard-hit companies avoid layoffs, especially in the tourism sector. Finally, the funds are needed to allow essential social services to continue in a safe way and to ensure educational continuity throughout the pandemic by hiring additional staff.

REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.6bn additional funding (in current prices) to Cohesion policy programmes over the course of 2021 and 2022. Measures focus on supporting labour market resilience, jobs, SMEs and low-income families, as well as setting future-proof foundations for the green and digital transitions and a sustainable socio-economic recovery.

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