International Curricula Comparison for Basic Programmes
in Civil Engineering

by Dr. Ivo Vavra

(Based on the Research report by J. A. Battjes, H. A. Dieterman, S. W. Naber and H. M. Wasmus of TU Delft, The Netherlands)

The Civil Engineering Faculty at TU Delft directed a research project on curricula comparison in 1992. This research was carried out at several West European universities where civil engineering is taught. Some basic data was collected for discussion about the basic structures of the study programmes in civil engineering at the Faculty of CE, TU Delft.

In Holland, civil engineering teaching at university level is ensured only at TU Delft. The Faculty of Civil Engineering needs to have good and continuous contacts with the faculties in the surrounding countries and this curricula comparison project formed a good example of suitable cooperation. In addition, it is essential for the universities to orientate themselves towards developing international and mobile engineers. Therefore, an important necessary condition is to internationalize the teaching so that they can enter the field even at international level. The mobility of students and teachers has substantially increased between "sister faculties" thanks to various European exchange programmes which again have created pressure towards the above mentioned internationalization.

The project has been financed by research study funds and private funds of the Faculty of CE, TU Delft. It was carried out by five researchers. The project was implemented by deploying a questionnaire and two members of the research group were present each time when it was completed in a participating institution. At the same time official study materials were also collected, e. g. study catalogues, description of the school's structure, requirements for examinations, etc.

Nine technical universities from six different countries participated in the project. However, it was obvious that many schools were not able to give sufficiently precise data that could be statistically analysed at the end of the research.

Therefore, in order to compare the obtained materials from different countries and institutions, the participating schools were carefully selected. The main criteria of choice were as follows:

On the basis of these criteria the following schools were excluded - schools from Belgium, where they have full national entrance examinations focused on the general basic programme for all schools of technical orientation and schools from France, where they have a state classification ladder (a progressively scaled gradated system) based on a fiercely competitive selection process. Further, the economic situation in a participating country was compared and finally, even the financial situation and the means of financing the institution were compared in the research.

Research was mainly focused on the following:

To achieve the objectives of the research, the following parameters of the study programmes were separately investigated: entrance knowledge level of students from secondary schools, length of study according to the study programme, orientation of the basic branch and quantity of each subject, specializations completed by graduation and optionality, analysis of the course of a basic branch after groups, some basic groups joining more subjects (General Sciences, Engineering Sciences, Planning and Design, Skills, Miscellaneous) were chosen to allow comparison. Further, the main objectives of the investigated programmes, the entrance examinations, the study load, the length of study, the fluency of study, the examination and graduation regulations were all examined. The use of computers for study materials, the extent and orientation of computer skills being taught, group projects, practical teaching and laboratory teaching and written study materials were also investigated.

Further information is available from Drs. H. M. Wasmus of the Office for Education and Research, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, fax (031)(015) 78 69 93.

Return to the page "Newsletter 2/1994"