The short version:
Why we are here
The Joint Council of Engineering Institutions was formed in 1964
to agree common standards for Professional Engineers.
Development of this task has been continuous through establishment
of the Engineers Registration Board (originally for Incorporated
Engineers), creation of the Engineering Council (in response to the
Finniston Report of 1980), reform of the Engineering Council in
1996, and creation of the Engineering Council UK in 2002.
The long version:
Since the dawn of civilisation, mankind has used materials and
ingenuity to provide shelter, facilitate production or capture of
food, and to facilitate defence (or attack). In the UK, the
importance of engineers as soldiers was recognised by the founding
of the Corps of Engineers in 1717. Recognition of the contribution
of engineering to civilian society came later when the Institution
of Civil Engineers was formed in 1818. Civil engineering was
strongly associated with the dramatic developments of the modern
economy - particularly canals, bridges, lighthouses, ports and
The significance of the 19th century railway economy led to
creation of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1847, but
the transformation in communications which resulted from the use of
electrical telegraphy meant that an Institution of Electrical
Engineers was established in 1871.
As engineering became more specialised, the number of societies and
institutions grew. By the mid 1950s the demand for a central body -
to agree standards for education and training, and to act as a
representative of the profession - led to the creation of the Joint
Council of Engineering Institutions in 1964 (later the Council of
Engineering Institutions or CEI).
During the 1960s increasing criticism of the CEI's performance
resulted in the first Royal Commission to look at the organisation
and utilisation of the engineering profession across the country.
The central recommendation in its 1980 report was that Government
should establish an authority to act as "an engine of change". Its
members were to be appointed by Government, its purposes were
summarised as "to advance education in, and to promote the science
and practice of engineering for the public benefit and thereby to
promote industry and commerce" in the United Kingdom. It was
intended to focus the promotion of engineering and the
establishment of uniform standards of engineering qualification in
one national body.
The outcome was the establishment of the Engineering Council in
1982 with a governing Council composed of a majority of qualified
engineers, plus men and women connected with engineers in industry
and the wider world.
Overall, the Engineering Council was successful in a number of
areas, in particular publishing Standards and Routes to
Registration (SARTOR) in 1985 and establishing an auditing role to
assess the ability of the professional engineering institutions
(PEIs) to maintain registration standards. But the increasing
dissatisfaction of the PEIs with the unrepresentative nature of the
Engineering Council's governing body, coupled with concerns
about overlaps of responsibility and message, led to the reform of
the Council in 1995. The principle outcome was the creation of a
fully representative Senate of 54 as a new governing body.
Continuing concerns about the breadth of activity of the Council
led to a further review in 2001, and in 2002 the then Engineering
Council was split into the Engineering Technology Board (now called
EngineeringUK) and ourselves, the Engineering Council UK (The
latter reverting to 'Engineering Council'). [The detailed history
of the Engineering Council 1982-2002 (Chronicle of Engineering
Council) can be accessed via the link on the right hand side of
this page ] EngineeringUK is now responsible for the promotion of
engineering, while the Engineering Council is responsible for
professional registration standards, which it overhauled in 2003.
We also published the first version of the 'UK Standard for
Professional Engineering Competence' (UK-SPEC) in December of that