FIG Working Week 2000, 21-26 May, Prague

Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications in the Surveying Profession

by Stig Enemark and Frances Plimmer

Key words: Mutual Recognition, Surveying Profession, FIG.  


There is no doubt that the market for the services of surveyors is world-wide. There is no human activity, which does not involve the use of land, in its broadest sense, and, increasingly, our clients have international interests. Pressure is also being generated by the WTO, which provides the framework for free trade in professional services and surveying as a profession needs to respond.

The FIG task force on Mutual Recognition of Qualifications should be seen as such a respond to globalisation of surveying services. The task force aims to review the concept of mutual recognition of qualifications within the world wide surveying community and to develop a framework for introduction of standards of global professional competence in this area.

This paper seeks to develop a general understanding of the concept based on the agenda identified by the WTO. Benefits and barriers will be discussed. Furthermore, the paper will discuss some key issues related to implementation of the concept in the surveying profession. The paper will look into different models for assessment of the educational base as well as models for assessment of professional competence. The role of the national institutions will be highlighted in this regard. In short, The paper attempts to develop a common language for discussing the whole issue of mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

Globalisation of services is a topical issue and it is on the very top of the international agenda. We need to respond to this challenge and devise the means to ensure global free movement, so that the process reflects the requirements of the surveyor. However, in order to work anywhere in the world, we need to be sure that our professional qualifications will be recognised globally and, to date, that is not happening. Until we have total freedom to practice world wide, and that means recognition of our qualifications by other governments, professional bodies and by international clients, surveyors are not going to be in a position to respond to the global challenge.

It is argued that mutual recognition of qualifications is the best process to be adopted if the free movement of professionals is to be achieved efficiently and effectively. This should be undertaken at the level of professional institutions. It should not be introduced with the force of government. The whole process should be underpinned by efficient communication between organisations which recognise, both the areas of professional activities undertaken by their members and the quality of the output of each of these organisationsí professional qualifications.

Indeed, the WTO is seeking co-operation and involvement with the international professional bodies in professional services (such as FIG) for the establishment of mutual recognition agreements or bilateral agreements in order to achieve free trade in professional services

There is an attraction in developing and extending the principle of mutual recognition of professional qualifications. Mutual recognition allows each country to retain its own kind of professional education and training because it is based, not on the process of achieving professional qualifications, but on the nature and quality of the outcome of that process.

Mutual recognition assumes an appropriate process of pre-qualificational education and training and encourages dialogue between professional organisations in each country in order to investigate the nature of the professional activities, the professional qualifications, and the details of pre- and post-qualification education and training. It therefore concentrates, not on the process of qualification, but on the outcome of that process.

In principle, it does not matter how individuals become qualified in their own country, the important fact is that they ARE qualified. It is suggested that this concentration, not on the process of qualification, but on the outcome of the process of qualification is one which should be emulated by surveyors in the system which they adopt. In turn, this should lead to an enhancement of the global professional competence of the surveying profession.

The paper will present the approach taken by the task force for dealing with these ambitious goals. Models are currently being developed at the European level in co-operation with the CLGE (The Council of European Geodetic Surveyors). These models will be presented and discussed at a comprehensive seminar to be held in Delft, The Netherlands in November 2000. The outcome of these discussions should then form the basis the development of a world wide model.

The profile and current material of the FIG Task Force on Mutual Recognition can be found on the FIG web site:

Prof. Stig Enemark
Chair of the FIG Task Force on Mutual Recognition
Aalborg University
Fibigerstrede 11
DK-9220 Aalborg,

Dr. Frances Plimmer
Secretary of the FIG Task Force on Mutual Recognition
University of Glamorgan
CF37 1DL 

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