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For regulators: March 31, 2020 CEAB statement on COVID-19

2020.03.31

The Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) is closely monitoring the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on CEAB-accredited engineering education programs. The CEAB commends the administration, faculty, and student bodies of accredited programs for making necessary adjustments to ensure quality education opportunities continue to be delivered safely in this uniquely challenging environment. The CEAB acknowledges that HEIs are currently working to maintain the integrity of their program(s) and their adherence to the accreditation criteria.

For many institutions, the modalities of instruction had to change suddenly during the Winter semester, forcing the cancellation of labs and, very quickly, the implementation of online delivery for the balance of the term. For the Spring and Summer terms, institutions are having to make rapid decisions about program delivery without a complete picture of how the situation will unfold. While course instruction and assignment work can be completed through programs delivered online, the impact to in-person lab experiences and co-op terms cannot be understated, and what these program components will look like moving forward is a question that has yet to be fully settled. Institutions have been in contact with the CEAB as they are rapidly adapting their programs. What is certain, from CEAB’s perspective, is that they are taking extraordinary care to ensure the academic integrity and adherence to accreditation criteria of their programs.

As this situation develops, CEAB is monitoring several possible changes to program delivery for the remainder of the Winter 2020 semester and is considering the possible impact on future semesters. We issue this memo to you to keep you appraised of steps that are being taken. Some may impact your future activities (for example, in your review of transcripts from CEAB applicants). Some you may not see in your work, but the CEAB deems it necessary to keep your appraised:

  • Temporary changes to program delivery to accommodate public health requirements are occurring, but do not constitute substantial program modifications. As such, programs have been informed that they are not required to inform CEAB of these temporary changes, and such changes will not adversely affect the programs’ accreditation status.
  • Some programs will give pass/fail or satisfied/unsatisfied standings (or similar) in some courses where letter or percentage grades would typically be given. The CEAB trusts HEIs to continue to apply their normal academic standards and that students who pass will do so by meeting their institution’s requirements, and such changes will not adversely affect the programs’ accreditation status.
  • Some HEIs have been required to cancel in-person final exams and make other academic accommodations. The CEAB trusts HEIs to continue to apply their normal academic standards in adapting to these changes and the subsequent determination of final grades.
  • Programs looking to the summer term and considering alternative lab instruction should consider how the learning outcomes of the labs could be achieved through distance-based learning activities and which cannot be achieved this way. Consideration might be made as to whether these outcomes can be met elsewhere in the curriculum or if changes will need to be made later in the curriculum.

Solutions being implemented to ensure on-going program delivery may be unique to an HEI. To address these situations, volunteers for subsequent accreditation cycle visits will receive additional training to help them understand which aspects of program delivery they should look for when assessing accreditation criteria, and how the current disruptions may have impacted how HEIs report on these metrics.

The CEAB considers this situation to be fluid and unique, and will take into consideration extenuating factors when evaluating programs impacted in subsequent accreditation cycles that may be affected. However, it should be noted that there will be no changes in policies at this time, nor will there be a reduction in expectations for meeting accreditation criteria. By not changing its expectations, the CEAB reaffirms its delegated responsibility to identify to the regulators those engineering programs whose graduates are academically qualified to begin the process to be licensed as professional engineers in Canada.

The CEAB continues to work closely with the HEIs to ensure the highest quality of engineering education is delivered via its accredited programs. HEIs, regulators, and the public are invited to monitor Engineers Canada’s website for further information on EC and the CEAB’s response to this unique situation, and to contact Mya Warken, Manger, Accreditation and CEAB Secretary (mya.warken@engineerscanada.ca) directly with specific questions.

The health and safety of students, faculty, and staff are of great importance to us and we are supportive of institutions taking reasonable measures to balance safety and academic continuity. We will continue to monitor the short-term and long-term impact of COVID-19 on CEAB-accredited programs and will provide further updates as warranted. These extraordinary times will call for extraordinary measures and the CEAB will be receptive to any reasonable and/or innovative measures that HEIs will take to satisfy our criteria.