A number of questions arise at courses relating to registering in various categories without the requisite qualifications. In order to maintain international recognition through the Washington, Sydney and Dublin Accords, it is essential that ECSA ensures that those registering per category have achieved the academic level as required by each Accord. Where an exact match is not evident, candidates need to gain extra theoretical knowledge and prove that they have developed theoretical knowledge equivalent to that specified per category. The three most common questions are answered below.

Can I register as a Pr Eng without an engineering degree?

Engineering degrees are composed of substantial fundamental theory and two or more years of applied theory. The fundamental theory is composed of two years of mathematics, as well as a year of physics and chemistry. The theory in a national diploma is composed of one year of foundation subjects and one year of applied subjects. When completing a BTech, it is simply a matter of gaining extended theoretical knowledge in two or more of the applied subjects, thus the foundation theory for a technician and a technologist is the same. Physics and chemistry are not covered in the national diploma.

In the past, the alternative route application allowed those who had assumed the role of engineer to apply to ECSA for recognition of achieving workplace competence at the level of an engineer, and to assess what theoretical knowledge they were short of. The applicant was then required to attend whatever courses were deemed necessary to develop the theoretical knowledge and provide proof of passing all subjects before they could be registered as a Pr Eng. This route has now been withdrawn. The intention is that ECSA will set exams at some stage in the future which those aspiring to attain Pr Eng registration will need to pass to demonstrate development of the required theoretical knowledge.

In the interim, it will be necessary to outline additional theoretical training on the E-17 forms to demonstrate how those without degrees have developed the theoretical knowledge required for Pr Eng registration. Most commonly, BTech graduates aspire to becoming registered as engineers.

It is important to note that:

  • The BTech degree is based upon application of technology, is specialised and lacks the fundamentals of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Engineering Sciences
  • The curriculum is not geared to solving complex problems and handling complex activities
  • The final year project does not generally require the solving of a complex problem. Project work that in the work environment meets this requirement will be taken into account

Unless candidates have carried out extra study to meet the requirement and exit level outcomes of a BEng, their qualifications cannot be considered to be substantially equivalent to a BEng degree.

Typically, in the past, the additional studies required were as follows:

  • Completing all natural science subjects up to 2nd year level at University
  • Completing mathematics up to at least 3rd year level
  • Completing the complementary study modules
  • Completing core engineering subjects up to 4th year level
  • Completing at least one advanced specialist subject up to 4th year
  • Completing the final year project to demonstrate complex problem solving and design

Substantial studies are required to address the gap.

Can I register in South Africa with a foreign qualification?

Foreign qualifications fall into several categories in terms of ECSA assessments.

  • Those recognised by ECSA because they are accredited by a signatory to an educational agreement relevant to the category
  • Those previously evaluated by ECSA as meeting its standard
  • Those previously not evaluated or found to be inconsistent in terms of achieving ECSA’s outcomes, in which case the applicant must undergo individual assessment

Since ECSA has stringent exit level outcome requirements, a certificate from SAQA confirming the legitimacy of the foreign qualification is of little value. The foreign applicant should read policy E-17-P and must submit detailed documentation to allow ECSA to assess the qualification and pronounce on the category to which it is equivalent. Many international degrees do not satisfy the ECSA degree requirements, as they tend to specialise too early on, or core subjects are not covered. It is not unusual for foreign applicants to be advised that their degree qualifications are equivalent to a local BTech, in which case they may register as a Pr Tech Eng.

The documents required for assessing foreign qualifications are as follows:

  • Certified copies of all qualification certificates, with translations if not in English, if not already uploaded
  • Certified copies of all full academic records or transcripts, with translations if not in English and, if not already uploaded
  • A curriculum analysis using the worksheet provided with as much detail as possible
  • Syllabi of the subjects studied, with translations if not in English
  • Project report(s)

Will my foreign registration be recognised in South Africa?

If you have registered professionally elsewhere in the world, it will be necessary to determine whether your country of origin is a signatory to one of the Mobility Agreements signed by ECSA. If so, and your qualifications are recognised under the Washington, Sydney or Dublin Accords, then you will follow the normal registration process. If your qualification does not fall under one of the Accords, then you will need to have your qualification assessed as outlined in the section above and then follow the normal registration process.

If however, you are registered with MICE in London, or Engineers Ireland and have an honours degree, then you need only complete the Mutual Exemption Agreement form and write up your CPD activities since you last submitted details to the registering body.