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Special Issue European Journal of Engineering Education Year : 2017

European models of engineering education. Evolution and challenges


In the XIXth century, and first part of the XXth century, there were mainly three important engineer training models in Europe, the German, the British and the French model, adapted in other European countries that spread throughout the world. Due to the internationalisation of training, higher education has changed since the 1990s in most countries (Elliot et al. 2011). These changes have not been experienced in the same way in northern and southern hemispheres, in the different countries within these hemispheres, and in the different types of higher education establishments within these countries (Leclerc-Olive et al. 2011). Engineer training is interesting to observe in this context for several reasons. On one hand, engineers are often considered to be the vehicles of social progress and necessary innovations in society (Saad, Guermat, and Brodie 2015). Thus, they play a major role at a national level which is not just economic, but also social and political. Moreover, in some countries such as France, engineering schools train elites (Lemaître 2011). Furthermore, in some countries, such as France or Portugal, one finds specificities meaning that the institutions which train engineers have been kept apart from the functioning and evolution of universities for several centuries (Grelon 2004). Such specific examples could help us identify the sources and drivers of transformation, the potential for structural transformation in engineering education and the areas of tension in the development of old-established systems. In the context of the globalisation and internationalisation of companies and the educational offer, the question arises of homogenisation of training which implies not just standardisation but also competition (Kennedy 2012). In order to make the European Union ‘the most competitive knowledge economy in the world by 2014’, the Lisbon Strategy was defined in 2000 and as such was in direct line with the Bologna Process. In a difficult economic and social context, with great expectations in terms of industrial renewal and strong injunctions to innovation, the training of engineers is at the heart of the challenges (Ramakrishna 2016; Morell 2016). This special edition of EJEE aims to compare training models, measure the reciprocal influences, the concrete effects of globalisation on these models and establish what is unique to them. The contributions to this issue render, in a synthetic manner, the specificities of training systems of engineering in Europe and their influence in the context of globalisation. We ask how the different countries position themselves to face the situation. And the various training organisations? What attempts are made by the countries to maintain their specificities? How do changes in industry influence engineer training? What has become of the models since the Bologna Process which has led to several concrete effects and increased standardisation? Are there changes which are widely shared on an international scale? Do the differences correspond to those of the XIXth century? How do non-European countries position themselves today? In these countries, does one model dominate the others or do they combine to create a new form of legitimisation, a hybrid of some sort? How do the national policies, the resistance of the stakeholders and the relations between the States relate to each other in this competitive context? What are the problems encountered by the training institutions? What are the challenges faced? The commitments made? We also propose to debate the hypothesis of a homogenisation of engineer training policies in Europe, and thus the eventuality of the appearance of a ‘standard’ engineer of a ‘universal’ type, called sometimes ‘global engineer’. What sort of engineers do they want to train in these different countries? What identity do they want their engineers to inherit? What professional identity is forged during training? In a context of injunctions to innovation, do the dictates for training engineers capable of innovating combine in the same way in each country? How are their needs interpreted and translated pedagogically?
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hal-01541466 , version 1 (19-06-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01541466 , version 1


Linda Gardelle. European models of engineering education. Evolution and challenges. United Kingdom. European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 42 (n° 2), 2017, European journal of Engineering Education. ⟨hal-01541466⟩
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