FIG PUBLICATION NO. 27
RECOGNITION OF PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS
This publication in .pdf-format
2. The Nature of Mutual
3. Why is it important?
4. How does it work?
5. Advantages of regulatory disciplines
6. The FIG Approach
7. A methodology to Assess Professional
8. Surveying Activities and Surveying Professions
9. Professional Competence
10. The Role of the Professional Organisations
11. Barriers and Hurdles to Implementation
12. FIG Policy Statement on Mutual
Five Regional Case Studies
Orders of the printed copies
The International Federation of Surveyors decided at its Congress in
Brighton in 1998 to establish a Task Force to investigate the area of Mutual
Recognition as a device for liberalisation of market services. We need to
respond to the challenge of globalisation and devise the means to ensure
global free movement, so that the process reflects the requirements of the
Recognising the international market pressures and the regulations
towards liberalisation of trade driven by WTO, FIG should review the area of
mutual recognition of qualifications within the world-wide surveying
community and develop a framework for the introduction of standards of
global professional competence in this area.
The Task Force should develop a framework for reviewing the benefits of
and barriers against introducing standards of global professional
competence. This should be seen as only the first step in this direction, to
reflect FIG's aim to drive these developments instead of being driven by
This publication aims to review the concept of mutual recognition of
qualifications within the world wide surveying community and to develop a
framework for the introduction of standards of global professional
competence in this area. Globalisation of services is a topical issue and it
is on the very top of the international agenda. The report is a timely and
welcome addition to the FIG series and demonstrates how FIG seeks to prepare
the profession for working within a global market place.
The report has been prepared by a Task Force that was chaired by Prof.
Stig Enemark (Denmark). The members of the Task Force were Dr.
Frances Plimmer (UK), Professional Secretary; Dr. Tom Kennie
(UK), Vice President of FIG; Prof. John Parker (Australia), Chair of
FIG Comm 1; Prof. Pedro Cavero (Spain), Vice-Chair of FIG Comm 2;
Prof. David Coleman (Canada); Prof. Heinz Ruther (South
Africa); Dr. Vaclav Slaboch (Czech Republic) and Teo Chee Hai
(Malaysia). On behalf of the Federation it is my great pleasure to express
our thanks to Stig Enemark, Frances Plimmer, the Task Force members and all
who have contributed to this publication - especially to those who have
submitted the regional reports - for their excellent work.
Robert W. Foster
President of FIG
RECOGNITION OF PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS
FIG Task Force on Mutual Recognition of
Prof. Stig Enemark, Denmark and Dr. Frances Plimmer, United
The International Federation of Surveyors FIG
This FIG Publication aims to develop a general understanding of the
nature of Mutual Recognition, the challenges we are facing, and the benefits
for the world-wide surveying community by adopting an FIG policy in this
area. The FIG Task Force on Mutual Recognition should be seen as a response
to the globalisation of surveying services, and to the pressures being
generated by the WTO agenda that provides a framework for free trade in
Mutual recognition is perceived by the European Commission as a device
for securing the free movement of professionals within the single market
place of the EU. For the WTO, the aim is the global marketplace for
services, using the process of mutual recognition of qualifications. With
these external pressures on surveying professional organisations, it is
important that information is available to understand, firstly, how
surveyors in different countries acquire their professional qualifications
and secondly, the process by which their professional competence is
The report presents the approach taken by the Task Force to develop an
FIG concept on Mutual Recognition tailored for the surveying profession. The
approach is in line with the pressures generated by the WTO, which provides
a general framework for free trade in professional services. The principles
and responsibilities are identified and the role of the national surveying
organisations is highlighted as the key driver in the process. The report
presents the key issues to form the FIG approach is this area.
The suggested approach is, however, pragmatic by nature. It draws from
the common professional identity of the surveying community. The concept
does not require any country to change the way its surveyors become
qualified - either in terms of the process or the standards, which should be
achieved. It does, however, require that we recognise qualifications gained
from other countries using other processes.
It is not the process, which is tested, nor should it be. It is the
quality of the outcome of the process, measured against objective national
criteria (threshold standards) which determines whether a surveyor has
achieved the appropriate professional education and experience in the "home
country" to be recognised in the "host country".
There are a number of barriers, which hinder mutual recognition at a
worldwide scale. Language, national customs and cultures are, however, not
true barriers to mutual recognition. Ignorance and fear are the main
barriers and yet with improved communication and understanding, these should
Surveyors have professional skills, which are vital for the success of
the global marketplace. We need to communicate effectively in order to
develop an understanding of the processes and benefits on which mutual
recognition can be based. The work of the Task Force has contributed to and
furthered the debate.
The principle of mutual recognition has been established and we have the
chance to adopt a framework that suits the surveying profession. We should
Mutual recognition is a device which allows a qualified surveyor who
seeks to work in another country to acquire the same title as that held by
surveyors who have qualified in that country, without having to re-qualify.
Mutual recognition is a process which allows the qualifications gained
in one country (the home country) to be recognised in another country
(the host country).
To understand the nature of mutual recognition it is useful to look at
the different working situations.
- Recognition does not relate to the situation of "getting a job". In
general, employment is a matter between the employer and the employee.
Getting a work permit in another country may be restricted by national
regulations of immigration, but that has nothing to do with recognition of
- Recognition may, however, relate to the situation where a foreign
employee wants to become a member of the professional organisation in the
host country, and thereby enjoy the benefits of being recognised as an
equal professional and sharing the same rights e.g. with regard to salary
- Recognition becomes even more important when a professional wants to
practise - e.g. setting up a company - in the host country. Recognition of
professional competence may then represent a vital competitive element in
terms of marketing services to the clients.
- Finally, recognition becomes crucial when a professional wants to
practise within a licensed area (typically cadastral surveys) in the host
country. The license may be granted by a state agency or by a professional
body. In any case, however, the recognition will represent the key itself
for working in the regulated area.
Mutual Recognition this way is a device for facilitating an efficient
global working place for surveying services. It is a device that WTO has
approved to secure globalisation. There are various models currently in use
by the surveying organisations to achieve this, including bilateral
reciprocity agreement and, as in the EU, a legislative framework.
With these external pressures on surveying professional organisations, it
is important that information is available to understand, firstly, how
surveyors in different countries acquire their professional qualifications
and secondly, the process by which their professional competence is
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.
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 response to
globalisation of surveying services.
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 organisations' professional qualifications.
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 the introduction of standards of global professional
competence in this area.
The principle of mutual recognition of professional qualifications
requires certain pre-conditions, as described by WTO when introducing
disciplines applied to the accountancy sector (WTO, 1997):
- degree-level entry to the profession in both countries;
- appropriate regulation of the profession in the "host" country;
- a corresponding profession i.e. where a substantial number of
professional activities practised in the "home" country comprise the
profession as practised in the "host" country;
- an adaptation mechanism to make up for any deficiencies in the content
and scope of the professional education and training of migrants; and
- a willingness on the part of the host country and its bodies which
award professional qualifications/licenses to accept the principle of
mutual recognition, to respect the quality of professional education and
training in other countries and to trust the professionalism of migrants.
These principles may be seen as an implementation of the GATS (Article
VI: 4) that seek to ensure: "….. That measures relating to qualification
requirements and procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements
do not constitute unnecessary barriers to trade in services…" and, to this
end, the Council for Trade in Services shall develop 'disciplines' "…. to
ensure that such requirements are:
- based on objective and transparent criteria, such as competence and
the ability to supply the service;
- not more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the
- in the case of licensing procedures, not in themselves a restriction
on the supply of the service". (Honeck, 2000).
To this end, the WTO have established "disciplines" (specifically for the
accountancy sector) (WTO, 1998) which can be applied to the provision of all
services. These "disciplines" relate to transparency; licensing
requirements; licensing procedures; qualification requirements (defined to
include education, examination, practical training, experience and language
skills); qualification procedures (which imply the opportunity for an
adaptation mechanism to make up for a perceived deficiency in professional
qualifications); and technical standards (only legitimate objectives).
Mutual recognition agreements are identified as the most common way to
achieve mutual recognition of qualifications, allowing for the
reconciliation of ". . . differences in education, examination standards,
experience requirements, regulatory influence and various other matters, all
of which make implementing recognition on a multilateral basis extremely
difficult." (WTO, 1997). Bi-lateral mutual recognition agreements are
perceived as interim devices until a global system of mutual recognition of
qualifications based on the above Article can be achieved by the imposition
by law of a series of 'disciplines' which will apply to all professions.
There is value in creating regulatory disciplines in professional
services because they help ensure greater transparency, predictability and
irreversibility of policies both for trading partners and domestic
producers. By providing greater opportunity for domestic users to obtain
world-class services at internationally competitive prices, regulatory
disciplines have the potential for enhancing domestic productivity and
efficiency, as well as increasing the scope and quality of services locally
For small- and medium-sized firms in both developing and developed
countries, regulatory disciplines would help to ease and expand their
cross-border trade, they will be able to form regional networks and thereby
expand their activities and improve their ability to compete locally with
larger international firms. The creation of disciplines will accelerate
international regulatory harmonisation.
In turn, the concept of mutual recognition should lead to enhancement of
professional competence based on the need for adapting to professional
standards and codes of conduct adopted in different countries.
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
Mutual recognition assumes an appropriate process of pre-qualification
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
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
FIG recommends that this rather pragmatic approach be applied as a
general principle for developing a methodology suitable for the surveying
7. A methodology to Assess
The applicant is of course a fully qualified professional in the home
country where the professional qualification was gained. However, it is that
individual's competence to work in another country (the host country) which
needs to be assessed.
Thus, for the purposes of facilitating professional mobility, it is
necessary to recognise and accept the professional status and the competence
of the applicant in the home country. For the professional organisation in
the host country it is necessary merely to ensure that the applicant is
competent to undertake surveying, as practised in that host country. It must
be ensured that the applicant is fully aware of and has adapted to the
nature and practice of the surveying profession in the host country.
It is therefore necessary for the professional organisation in the host
country to establish the nature and level of professional competencies
within a range of surveying activities required of a fully-qualified
professional in the host country and to assess the applicant against that
content and standard of professional competence.
The pre-conditions for managing this process of mutual recognition are as
The process of assessment of professional competence must reflect:
- the nature of the profession in the host country (threshold standards
of professional competence);
- the nature of the professional education and training of the surveyor
(applicant) up to the point of application; and
- the professional status of the surveyor (applicant) up to point of
A concept tailored for the surveying profession should of course be based
on the common professional identity of the surveying community. The
surveying profession is sharing a "common culture" and a common educational
base. The professional problems that the educational programmes are designed
to solve are basically the same even if the solutions may be different,
responding to national societal needs. This "surveying culture" should then
be reflected when identifying the threshold standards of professional
competence to be fulfilled by the applicant. Once such threshold standards
are established, the process of assessing the professional status and
competence of an applicant is basically administrative.
8. Surveying Activities and
Surveying, as a profession, has developed in different ways and
encompassed different surveying activities in different countries, in order
to reflect the national needs, which have developed over time. The universal
definition of "surveyor" (FIG 1991) is capable of being up-dated to reflect
changes in the evolving nature of our professional practices and skills.
While a similar range of surveying activities may be undertaken in different
countries, there may be differences between the way these activities are
grouped as a recognised "profession".
In general, the professional activities are diverse and some activities,
which are performed by surveyors in some countries, are denied to surveyors
in other countries. Also, some surveying activities are regulated in some
countries while not regulated in other countries. Furthermore, there may be
a greater need for particular kinds of surveying skills in some countries
compared to others. This is proved e.g. in the report on "Enhancing
Professional Competencies of the European Surveyors" where major differences
where demonstrated in the content and structure of the surveying programmes
as well as the professions throughout Europe (Enemark and Prendergast 2001).
The implications of the EU directive and the WTO proposals are, however,
that it does not matter how individuals achieve professional status,
the important point is that they have achieved professional status.
The only reason to investigate the nature and content of their
pre-qualification process is to identify any discrepancy between the
professional education and training of the "migrant" with that required of a
newly-qualified surveyor in the host country and therefore to establish an
adaptation mechanism to make good the deficiency.
In the light of the terms of the EU Directive and the implications of the
WTO proposals, the ability of surveying professionals to work in other
countries must depend on:
- the existence of a "corresponding profession" i.e. the extent to which
the academic education and professional training and experience gained in
their "home" country matches the surveying activities comprised in the
surveying profession in the "host" country to which they seek access; and
- the amount of additional academic and/or professional education,
training and experience which they require to demonstrate competence in
the range of surveying activities comprised in the surveying profession in
the "host" country to which they seek access.
On this basis, it is necessary for the surveying professional
organisations in each country to identify which surveying activities are
comprised within their surveying professions. By comparing such a list of
surveying activities with those of which the surveying applicant is
qualified and experienced, any lacking competence of the applicant can be
identified. Such deficiencies can (e.g. as stated in the EU Directive) be
remedied by either by an aptitude test (examination) or a period of
supervised work experience.
Effectively, what is required by the WTO disciplines as well the EU
directive is an assessment of the professional competence of an applicant
(called a "migrant" in the EU Directive). According to the current
interpretation of the Directive, the standard against which that
professional competence should be assessed is that required of a newly-
qualified surveyor in the host member country. This, however, may cause
great difficulties. The Task Force recommends that this interpretation be
changed to follow the more pragmatic approach as presented in this paper.
Despite the fact that professional competence of the surveyor is
fundamental to the ability to practice freely across national boundaries, it
is interesting to consider certain characteristics of the surveyor as an
individual. It should also be noted that the definition of a surveyor (FIG,
1991) starts by identifying the surveyors as " ….. A professional person
with the academic qualifications and technical expertise to practise the
science of measurement; to assemble and assess land and geographic related
information; to use that information …"
"Professional competence" is, however, extremely hard to define, although
it is something with which all surveyors are familiar. It is suggested
(Kennie et. al., 2000) that for newly-qualified surveyors "professional
competence" combines knowledge competence, cognitive competence and business
competence with a central core of ethical and/or personal behaviour
- Knowledge competence: defined as "the possession of appropriate
technical and/or business knowledge and the ability to apply this in
- Cognitive competence: defined as "the abilities to solve using
high level thinking skills technical and/or business related problems
effectively to produce specific outcomes;
- Business competence: defined as "the abilities to understand
the wider business context within which the candidate is practising and to
manage client expectations in a pro-active manner"; and
- Ethical and/or personal behavioural competence: which is the
core to the other three parts; defined as "the possession of appropriate
personal and professional values and behaviours and the ability to make
sound judgements when confronted with ethical dilemmas in a professional
The model above recognises that different areas of surveying practice
tend to place different weighting on these elements, thus for some areas of
surveying practice, business competence may be a larger or smaller component
of the whole. However, the ethical and/or personal behavioural competence is
identified as a vital component, which can also be described as the defining
characteristic of a true "professional" with all that entails.
What is ignored within the current interpretation of the EU Directive is
the fact that the individual being assessed for this purpose is both a
professional in the country which awarded the original surveying
qualification and a practitioner. The Directive does not recognise the
elements of specialisation or expertise, which an applicant may have
developed over a number of years practice. It is, therefore, suggested that
a pragmatic approach should be taken which ensures that the applicant can
demonstrate the adaptation of existing surveying skills to a new working
environment. This should include adaptation of new ethics and codes of
practice, together with a broad understanding of the other surveying
activities that affect the profession in the host country.
It is suggested that it should be for the professional organisation in
the home country to assure other professional organisations of the
professional standing of applicants (migrants). This should include such
matters as the nature of the surveying profession pursued by the applicant
and their component activities, and the level of the applicant's
professional qualification in the home country.
Once this has been done, it is not for the professional organisation in
the host country to challenge the status and professional integrity of the
applicant. Its role is merely to assess that professional status against an
objective list of threshold standards for the home country, including that
the individual is prepared to observe any professional ethics and codes of
practice it requires.
10. The Role of the Professional
There is a major role for the professional organisations, which award
surveyors their surveying qualifications in the process of mutual
recognition. It is recognised that there are different roles undertaken by
professional organisations. For the purposes of this Task Force, the term
"professional organisations" is defined by their functions rather than by
their names. "Professional organisations" then means organisations at
country or sub-state level which:
- award professional qualifications; and/or
- award practising licenses; and/or
- regulate the conduct and competence of surveyors; and/or
- represent surveyors and their interests to external bodies including
By using this definition, some countries may have more than one
"professional organisation". For example, in Denmark, cadastral surveying
can only be undertaken by surveyors who have a masters-level diploma (bac +
5), who have undertaken three years of relevant professional work experience
and who have then been granted a license by the National Survey and Cadastre
(Enemark, 2001). In the United Kingdom (UK), The Royal Institution of
Chartered Surveyors (RICS) assesses the quality of academic education
through its system of accrediting diplomas (bac + 3), and implements a
system of assessing relevant professional work experience (there is no
licensing system for surveyors in the UK).
In order to achieve the free movement of professionals, judgements need
to be made on the nature of the individual's professional qualification and
experience which is gained in the home country in the light of the nature of
the profession as practised in the host country.
The organisation to which the individual applies for recognition in the
host country needs sufficient information, firstly, to recognise the nature,
scope and quality of the professional qualification held by the individual
and, secondly, to verify its accuracy. This requires a high level of
effective and efficient communication from the professional organisation in
the home country to the professional organisation in the host country, which
- details of the professional qualification held;
- details of the nature of the particular surveying profession to which
the individual's professional qualification gives access; and
- confirmation of the status of the individual's qualification (e.g.
membership level, outstanding fees, expulsion from the organisation).
Ideally, this could be based on a simple questionnaire. Each professional
organisation should also have a procedure which requests and deals with
requests for the above information as a basis for processing applicant's
request for mutual recognition, in an efficient and effective manner.
Ultimately, it will be for the professional organisation to establish
what, if any, additional professional education and/or training is necessary
before a particular applicant is able to practice within the host country in
the light of the threshold standards applied.
The role of professional organisations is vital if free movement of
professionals through the mutual recognition of qualifications is to be
11. Barriers and Hurdles to
There are major issues of principle (not the least of which is that of
mutual recognition itself) which professional organisations on behalf of
their own countries need to embrace and embrace with commitment. However,
professional associations are frequently held back by bureaucracy and by
potential conflict of views between ministry rules with which professional
organisations do not always agree. Thus appropriate ministries should be
included in any discussions on mutual recognition processes.
There are, however, a number of principles which should be observed, and
these include the absence of any form of discrimination against any
individual surveyor simply because qualification has been earned in another
country. Indeed, this is stated within the WTO disciplines proposed (WTO,
1997 and 1998a). Assuming that the professional organisations which
represent surveyors and which monitor their qualifications fulfil their
responsibilities fairly and professionally, there should be little problem
in administering the process of mutual recognition of qualifications.
Similarly, it will be necessary to ensure that practising licenses, are
awarded solely on the basis of professional competence to practice in that
country and not on any basis which discriminates against those who are
professionally training and experienced in another country.
However, it is recognised that we are all products (to a greater or
lesser extent) of our national and professional backgrounds and the various
cultural influences, which affect how we work and why we undertake our
professional activities in the way we do. In order to achieve any kind of
dialogue, these differences, particularly those in professional practice,
and those which affect inter-personal relationships, need to be
investigated, understood and respected.
The most obvious barrier to the free movement of surveyors is language.
However, this is a barrier, which can be overcome. Access to learning
different languages is normally dependent on individual efforts, and,
initially, on the national primary and secondary education systems, which
can provide either a very positive or rather negative lead. Language skills
are of course vitally important to permit international communication and
genuine understanding of the rich variety of professional and personal
However, there is also the matter of culture which permeates our national
or regional societies and which comprises a series of unwritten and often
unconscious rules of conduct, professional practice and of perceiving
relationships. Failure to understand and observe the cultural norms of other
people can result in confusion, hurt and, at worse, perceived insult. There
is evidence that culture divides us, both as individuals (as the products of
our nation's upbringing) and also as surveyors (as the products of our
In order to ensure the mutual recognition of professional qualifications,
cultural differences need to be recognised in order to understand and accept
that surveyors in different countries have different perceptions as to the
nature of professional practice and the routes to professional
Overall, ignorance and fear are of course the main barriers, which may
hinder mutual recognition at a worldwide scale. However, with improved
communication and understanding, these barriers should disappear.
The FIG Council at its meeting in Seoul 2001 adopted by the
recommendation of the Task Force the FIG Policy Statement on Mutual
Recognition of Professional Qualifications. This statement was then endorsed
by the FIG General Assembly at the FIG XXII Congress in Washington, DC in
April 2002. The FIG Policy Statement on Mutual Recognition reads as follows:
Policy Statement on Mutual Recognition of
The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) recognises the
importance of free movement of surveyors in a global marketplace. The
mutual recognition of professional qualifications provides a means
whereby professional qualifications held by individual surveyors can
be recognised by individual professional organisations as comparable
to those acquired by their own national surveyors.
FIG will promote the principle of mutual recognition of
professional qualifications by:
- Encouraging communication between professional organisations to
ensure a better understanding of how surveyors acquire their
professional qualifications in different countries;
- Developing with professional organisations a methodology for
implementing mutual recognition for surveyors;
- Supporting professional organisations where difficulties are
identified in achieving mutual recognition, and encouraging debate
at national government level in order to remove such difficulties;
- Working with external organisations (such as the WTO) in order
to achieve mutual recognition in both principle and practice of
professional qualifications for surveyors world-wide."
Enemark, S. and Prendergast, P. (Ed.), (2001): Enhancing Professional
Competence Surveyors in Europe. Joint FIG and CLGE publication. FIG Office,
Copenhagen ISBN 87-90907-11-6.
European Council, (1989): European Council's Directive on a general
system for the recognition of higher-education diplomas awarded on
completion of professional education and training of at least three years'
duration. European Council 89/48/EEC.
FIG, (1991): Definitions of a Surveyor. FIG Publications No. 2, FIG
Office, Copenhagen. ISBN 951-96203.0-3 (http://www.fig.net).
Honeck, Dale, B., (2000): "Developing Regulatory Disciplines in
Professional Services: The Role of the World Trade Organisation". In
Aharoni, Y. and Nachum, L. (Eds): "Globalization of Services: Some
implications for theory and practice", Routledge, June 2000.
Kennie, T., Green, M., Sayce, S., (2000): Assessment of Professional
Competence. A draft framework for assuring competence of assessment.
Prepared for The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
WTO, 1997. Guidelines for Mutual Recognition Agreements or Arrangements
in the Accountancy Sector S/L/38 (May, 1997) World Trade Organisation.
WTO, 1998. Disciplines on Domestic Regulation in the Accountancy Sector
S/L/64 (December, 1998) World Trade Organisation.
Five Regional Case Studies
The following case studies on Mutual Recognition in Practice provide a
representative sample of how different regions and countries across the
world have developed their approach to free trade in professional services
and especially in as a respond to globalisation of surveying services.
There are various models currently in use in different parts of the
world. The case studies this way underpin the need for developing a global
framework that suits the surveying profession.
Donald A. Buhler, United States
The United States has a multifaceted system of mutual recognition. As a
country with over 50 individual State and Territorial jurisdictions, the
United States has separate and distinct laws and regulations governing the
licensing of land surveyors within each State and Territory. Each
professional licensing process reflects the unique character of each of the
States and Territories. The requirements, testing, and certification vary,
although, there are some basic commonalities across these jurisdictions.
States normally will recognize a professional from another state through
the process of comity or reciprocity. The recognition by comity entitles a
professional/registered land surveyor with a license to practice within
another State. From an international perspective the North American Free
Trade Act (NAFTA) which was ratified by the United States Congress and
signed into law allows for "Licensing and Certification", between the United
States, Canada and Mexico. There is an existing process for all foreign
practitioners to obtain recognition or licensing.
The process is normally organized through a state government agency,
usually, under the Board of Business Licenses and Practices which falls
under the Secretary of State of the particular State or Territory. The Board
administers all professions which includes Professional Land Surveyor or
Registered Land Surveyors. These Boards have made efforts to standardize on
the basic requirements for a surveyor but are different on the requirements
based upon the State and Territorial laws and organizational structures.
The educational requirements and the experience levels for a surveyor are
increasing with all states. Many states are requiring a four year degree
from a college or university with a surveying program that is accredited
through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The
State Boards also provide oversight on the practice and ethical conduct of
the profession by appointing a group of surveyors to a board. This surveying
board can be the catalyst for change in the process and requirements of
comity and also provide input on any changes in the laws that govern
surveying. The surveying board may be involved in the review of applications
for comity in some States.
The criteria used for the assessment of application for comity is based
upon a written application. It varies in form by each State with basic
experience, references and educational requirement included. The comity
process requires written references from licensed professionals which are
sent to the State and are factored into the assessment of applicants. These
requirements vary depending upon the nature of an application.
The physical and geographic nature of a State or Territory may require
additional expertise, experience and testing. Many of the coastal States and
Territories have educational and testing requirements for tidal studies,
storm water models and other water related issues. Most states require some
type of written examination on the state laws and some also require an
interview with a board of surveyors. Water rights, subdivision regulations,
recording and platting are examples of laws which may be unique to a State
For individuals with a foreign licenses and degrees in surveying, again,
the process for recognition varies with each State and Territory just as is
does for United States citizens. The education may require a type of
validation. The following language is standard with many of the Board of
Business Licenses and Practices:
Foreign Degree. If you have a non-ABET (Accreditation Board for
Engineering and Technology) accredited foreign undergraduate engineering
degree, your academic records must be evaluated by Engineering Credentials
Evaluation International (ECEI) of ABET. Contact the Foreign Evaluations
Department of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and
Surveying (NCEES) regarding requirements to have your degree evaluated.
The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)
web site (www.ncees.org) has the forms
and contact information to apply for comity. NCEES forms include an
Experience, Affidavit, and Certificate/Verification Record. NCEES functions
as a clearing house for many States for verification of educational
institutions and administrative processes.
The North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) serves as a model for a
national recognition guide for all States and Territories when working with
Canada and Mexico. Article 1210 of NAFTA is followed by all States in
principle. The current process used by the States has worked well because
each State is enabled to incorporate State specific laws and customs, thus
ensuring qualified professionals knowledgeable in local laws and issues.
There is not a "national" recognition of licensed surveyors for all States
but the basic requirements and processes are nationalized through NCEES.
The process for comity or mutual recognition in the states can be lengthy
and prolonged in some states. It may include extensive application review,
personal interviews and testing on specific State laws. In other States the
process can be an application and verification process with minimal testing.
There is a movement towards greater uniformity between States. Most states
require continuing education, this is increasing the professional knowledge
between states and adds to more uniformity between the States. The cost of
maintaining multiple State licenses is substantial in time and money. Fees
are significant and time needed for the application and renewal processes is
long even with web based systems.
The benefits of mutual recognition are mainly economical because it
provides services at a competitive costs to consumers of surveying services.
Mutual recognition also provides economic opportunities to surveyors by
expanding markets. The North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) was based upon
these principles. NAFTA's section on mutual recognition follow and benefits
Frances Plimmer, UK
In 1988, the principle of mutual recognition of professional
qualifications was recognised by the European Union as a priority if the
creation of the Single European Market was to be perceived as irreversible.
Earlier attempts to harmonise professional education and training had
resulted in seven sectoral directives covering mainly medical professions
and architects. However, the length of the negotiations necessary to achieve
these sectoral directives meant that harmonisation was not seen as suitable
solution for the Commission.
The result is the European Council's Directives on a general system for
the recognition of higher education diplomas awarded on completion of
professional education and training of at least three years duration (the
Directive), which was adopted by the European Council in 1988 and came into
effect in 1991.
Unlike harmonisation (where the same rules apply in each country), the
Directive is based on mutual recognition of the outcome of professional
education in other member states and relies on the acceptance of the
equivalent professional qualifications gained within the European Union
The directive applied to all professions for which:
- access in some way is restricted;
- at least three years higher education is required; and
- a specific sectoral directive does not already exists.
The directive does, therefore, apply to surveyors. The directive does
not, however, apply to architects for whom a specific sectoral directive
already exists. This has caused problems for those specialised surveying
activities which, in some countries, are recognised as being undertaken by
The directive does not affect employment. It merely gives the right for
suitable qualified individual to apply for professional qualification which
is regulated in one member state, based on previous professional education
and training achieved in another EU member state.
Specifically, access to a regulated profession can not be denied a
migrant from another member state simply because that individual does not
hold the host nations own professional qualification if the migrant:
- holds the diploma required in another member state for the pursuit of
the profession in question; or
- has pursued the profession full-time for two years during the previous
ten years in another member state which does not regulate that profession
and possesses evidence of a three years diploma of higher education.
Furthermore, the Directive is interpreted in such a way that:
- the duration of the education and training of the migrant must be of a
comparable number of years; and
- the matters covered by the professional education must be
substantially the same as those covered by the diploma required in the
host country, or the regulated profession in the host country must be a
"corresponding profession" i.e. a profession including a substantial
number of professional activities comprised in the profession in the home
The establishment of (1), (2), and (3) above should be a matter of fact
evident on receipt of the migrants application form. The failure of a
migrant to demonstrate either (1) or (2) above will render invalid an
application to join a regulating professional body under the Directive. The
failure of a migrant to demonstrate (3) above will result in the imposition
of a period of professional experience.
The failure of a migrant to demonstrate (4) above will result in the
imposition of an adaptation mechanism. It is, therefore, for the regulating
professional bodies to establish whether the matters covered the
professional education and training of the migrant differ substantially from
those covered by the diploma required from non-migrant applicant or whether
the regulated profession in the host country is a corresponding profession.
Where there is a substantial difference between the matters covered by
the professional education and training of the migrant and those required by
non-migrant applicants, or where the regulated profession in the home
country is not a corresponding profession, the regulating professional body
of the home country will need to identify the deficiencies. The adaptation
mechanisms which allow a migrant to make good any apparent deficiencies of
academic or pre-qualificational knowledge, can be either an aptitude test
(examination) or an adaptation period i.e. a period of supervised work
experience. It is for the applicant to decide on the form of adaptation
In member states where it is necessary to hold a license in order to
practice as surveyor, it is for the licensing body to request academic
organisations in each member state to provide details of the contents of
academic education which is required for access to their surveying
professions. However, it is for the licensing body to make the decision as
to the appropriateness of the nature and content of the applicant's
The interpretation of the Directive has changed over the past 10 years
and the details are currently under review by the Commission.
Experience within the UK is that the Directive has made very little
impact. This is probably because of the absence of corresponding professions
between the UK Chartered Surveyors (as represented by the Royal Institution
of Chartered Surveyors) and the Land Surveying professions in other EU
countries (except the Republic of Ireland which has groupings of
professional surveying activities very similar to those in the UK).
There is, however, more commonality between the professions of land
surveyors within the rest of the EU and it seems that the Directive has
proved important for the mobility of professionals within Europe during the
One of the main problems which exists within the process of mutual
recognition is the issue of the "corresponding profession" and the extent to
which variation in professional activities can be allowed when determining
what is and what is not a "corresponding profession". There seem to be some
conflicts of judicial interpretations and it will of course be for the
Commission to resolve the matter. 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 that the concentration should
be not an the process of qualification, but on the outcome of that process.
This will be clear, pragmatic and adaptable.
Mutual recognition has never been promoted as a device to alter national
systems of education or professional practice. Yet, in some member states,
such national systems are being used to defeat the principles and practice
of mutual recognition. It is important that the Commission is aware of both
the nature and the extent of the barriers so that progress can be made.
Mutual recognition is, and has been for some decades, perceived by the
European Commission as the cornerstone of the principle of free movement of
professionals within the EU. The original directive focused clearly on
professional activities and the professional education and training and, if
necessary, the adaptation mechanisms necessary to ensure that professionals
who undertake those activities in one member state had the right to have
their qualification recognised in another member state, and thereby
undertake the same functions anywhere in the EU.
This mechanism is now being promoted by the World Trade Organisation as a
device for achieving global mutual recognition of qualifications. With ten
years of experience of dealing with this issue, the EU model could be seen
as a potential template for a global model.
It is therefore extremely important that the EU model is refined so that
it can be (and is in fact) applied successfully within the member states and
that this success informs the global debate within the WTO.
John Parker, Australia
There are a number of mechanisms that affect mutual recognition within
Australia and New Zealand and are dependant on the recognition sought. These
- "Recognition within each State and Territory of the Commonwealth of
regulatory standards adopted elsewhere in Australia regarding goods and
occupations". (Mutual Recognition Act 1992 of the Commonwealth of
- "To give effect to reciprocal arrangements with the Surveyors Boards
or other similar authority in any place outside Victoria for or with
- securing uniformity in the education training and examination of
persons in surveying;
- registering under …. persons who satisfy the Board that they are
registered or licensed or otherwise authorised to practice surveying
or cadastral surveying, as the case maybe, in such place ….";
- granting exemptions from any course of study or course of training
in surveying required by this Act ….. to any person who satisfies the
Board that he has in such place completed a course of study or course
of training in surveying of a similar standard to the course of study
or course of training in surveying required by this Act to be
completed by such persons or passed an examination in surveying of a
similar standard to the examination in surveying required by this Act
to be passed by such persons; …".
(Surveyors Act 1978, Victoria, Australia - similar legislation
exists for other States and Territories of Australia and New Zealand).
- Assessment of overseas qualifications by a "Bureau of Assessment of
Overseas Qualifications" for those seeking registration to practice as a
land surveyor in Australia and New Zealand or become a member of the
Institution of Surveyors Australia (professional body).
- The key principle of the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 is that "… a
person who is registered in the first State for an occupation is, …..
entitled after notifying the local registration authority of the second
State for the equivalent occupation:
- to be registered in the second State for the equivalent
- pending such registration, to carry on the equivalent occupation
in the second State."
There are a number of conditions that must be met by the applicant
seeking mutual recognition and there are time limits imposed on the
registration authority in the second State.
- The reciprocal arrangements for recognition of registration of
surveyors is provided for in the legislation of the States and Territories
of Australia and New Zealand has had to incorporate the requirements of
the above Mutual Recognition Act. e.g. A surveyor from a reciprocating
board seeking registration in Victoria must make application in writing
and enclose the following documentation : (i) Copy of a Letter of
Accreditation from a Reciprocating Board; (ii) Statutory Declaration that
all information is true and correct; (iii) Completed application form as
required by the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 and; (iv) Prescribed fee.
For a surveyor to obtain a Letter of Accreditation he/she must make
written application to his/her home registration board specifying the
reciprocating board that the surveyor requires registration with. The home
board confirms the person is registered and issues the letter with any
conditions that may exist on the register of the applicant to the
The receiving board on receipt of all information enters into the
register the name of the surveyor unless there is some inconsistency in
- For surveyors who do not have a qualification in surveying from an
Australian or New Zealand university, the Reciprocating Surveyors Boards
of Australia and New Zealand set up the Bureau of Assessment of Overseas
Qualifications, to assess the qualifications of overseas surveyors against
those in Guidelines developed from a broad aggregation of the content of
surveying courses in Australia and New Zealand. This Bureau works in close
cooperation with the Membership and Qualifications committee of the
Institution of Surveyors Australia and the National Office of Overseas
Skills Recognition (an Australian Government organisation).
The Bureau assesses the competencies of the overseas qualified surveyor
against standards that have been agreed by the Reciprocating Surveyors
Boards of Australia and New Zealand and those contained in the "National
Competency Standards for Professional Surveyors" published by the
Institution of Surveyors Australia in July 1996 (see
The Bureau having made an assessment of the overseas qualification
maintains that assessment in a data base for future reference.
The Bureau relies on the information provided by the applicant:
education, work experience, etc. and that the information is reliable. The
system relies on documentation only and has proved satisfactory over many
years. Where there is doubt about aspects of an applicant, the relevant
board is advised on a possible action, such as interviewing the applicant in
relation to the perceived short coming/s and that a training program is
implemented. Over the past 10 years there have been few cases where problems
have arisen and these were not due to the assessment process. Further
benefits are expected to be obtained in the process as further work is done
on competency standards and in the assessment system to support the
The approach taken has been well received by the Reciprocating Surveyors
Boards of Australia and New Zealand, by the Institution of Surveyors
Australia and by the Australian Government through its National Office of
Overseas Skills Recognition in providing a standardised approach to mutual
Ken Lester, South Africa
The South African Council for Professional and Technical Surveyors is a
statutory body constituted to register professional surveyors, surveyors,
survey technicians and candidates as well as to deal with matters connected
therewith including education, training and discipline.
While registration is only mandatory for professional land surveyors the
membership includes various categories of surveyors and incorporates the
activities of cadastral, topographical, engineering, photogrammetric, mining
and hydrographic surveyors.
The Act which established the council specifically provides for the
keeping and maintaining of a register for professional land surveyors who
are qualified to perform surveys for the purpose of preparing a diagram or
general plan for registration in a Deeds Registry, or any other survey
affecting the delimitation of boundaries or the location of beacons of any
land. A separate register is kept and maintained for all other categories of
professional and technical Surveyors.
The Land Survey Act and the Sectional Titles Act regulate the survey of
land and ownership of apartments and offices in South Africa respectively.
Both Acts provide that a person performing such work must be registered as a
professional land surveyor with the South African Council for Professional
and Technical Surveyors and his or her name must be entered in the register
for professional land surveyors referred to above.
Since the State accepts no responsibility for the security of title it is
essential that the survey component of the cadastre must provide the
mechanisms to ensure absolute security of title. This is achieved inter alia
by the statutory provision that the survey must be carried out by a
professional land surveyor or under his or her supervision and that no
transfer of land may be registered in the Deeds Registry unless it is based
on a diagram, signed by the professional land surveyor and approved by the
Such a measure of responsibility requires an excellent educational
background and a period of articles as well as an in depth knowledge of the
laws affecting surveying and the registration of land. The Survey Act and
regulations do not comprise a complete set of rules that govern cadastral
surveying and the professional land surveyor is obliged to refer to judicial
decisions especially with regard to sea and river boundaries where there has
been a large number of decided cases of the Supreme Court dealing with these
An Educational Advisory Committee (EAC) is mandated in terms of the Act
to investigate and make recommendations to the Council as to whether the
syllabuses of instruction prescribed and the standard of training by any
university for the examinations for a degree in surveying comply with the
requirements for registration as a professional land surveyor. The EAC is
empowered to investigate examinations conducted by universities outside
South Africa and recommend to Council that where appropriate such
examinations be deemed to be equivalent.
A candidate for registration as a professional land surveyor is required
to undergo training in practical work under the supervision of a registered
professional land surveyor for a period of 270 days, the nature of which is
approved and controlled by the council. At the conclusion of the training
the candidate must pass an examination in the laws concerning surveying and
related matters and carry out an acceptable trial survey as may be
To protect the public the South African Council for Professional and
Technical Surveyors has wide powers with regard to acts and omissions which
are regarded as constituting improper conduct by a professional land
surveyor. The Council may inquire into such cases and may impose penalties
which include a fine, a caution and reprimand, or both, suspension from
practicing in South Africa for a period of time, cancellation of
registration and disqualification from registration for a specified period.
In view of the foregoing the council has not acceded to requests for
mutual recognition and candidates from other countries have been required
- have their qualifications evaluated by the EAC to determine whether
the examination for their degree can be deemed to be equivalent to that
required for registration as a professional land surveyor;
- have a thorough knowledge of the survey procedures and laws governing
surveying and registration of titles in South Africa;
- pass an examination regarding laws concerning surveying and related
- have a registered address within South Africa from which he or she
will normally practise.
However the greatest problem with mutual recognition is not the
educational qualifications or the knowledge of the laws and procedures but
rather the responsibility of the professional land surveyor in relation to
security of title. With the State accepting no responsibility for security
of title the protection of the public is of prime concern to the council and
it is questionable whether the council would be able to properly exercise
its code of conduct and disciplinary powers over professional land surveyors
who do not permanently reside in the country.
Teo Chee Hai, Malaysia
The Institution of Surveyors Malaysia is a national professional body
incorporating four surveying disciplines, namely Land Surveying (including
geomatics and hydrographic surveying), Quantity Surveying, Property
Consultancy and Valuation Surveying (including estate agency) and Building
Surveying. The Institution subscribes to the universal definition of "A
Surveyor" as developed by the International Federation of Surveyors, which
A Surveyor is a professional person with the academic qualification
and technical expertise (post-graduate training) to practice the science of
measurement; to assemble and assess land and geographic related information;
to use that information for the purpose of planning and implementing the
efficient administration of land, the sea and structures thereon; and to
instigate the advancement and development of such practices.
Recognition of qualifications
The underlying principle in the recognition qualification is that a
person must have passed a recognised examination (this is translated to mean
a recognised or accredited basic degree) as carrying exemption from the
Institution's examination and has passed any additional examination and has
completed such period of supervised postgraduate experience as may be
Within the Institution, the Education and Accreditation Board of the
Institution is tasked with the responsibility for assessing each
qualification, local or foreign, before granting the desired recognition.
The Institution maintains a listing of recognised qualification for each of
the four surveying discipline. Qualification is assessed based on a
recognised standard. This standard is based on a few criteria, including
minimum content requirement (as compared against the syllabus of the
professional examination of the Institution), entrance qualification (in the
case of university degrees, pre-university programme and basic education),
duration of the programme, equivalent local degrees, educational
requirements of the registration boards and the Public Services Department.
This principle is similar to the provisions for the recognition of
qualification in the legislation for the registration of surveyors. In this
instance, the registration board would assess each qualification, local or
foreign, against a recognised (and usually legislated) standard before
granting the desired recognition. The registration board will also
prescribed further examination and period of supervised postgraduate
experience. The Boards maintains a listing of recognised qualifications -
basic degrees in surveying.
Presently, the Institution together with two of the surveyors
registration boards have joint education and accreditation committees so
that qualifications are mutually evaluated and accepted for membership of
the Institution and the registration of surveyors. Generally, qualifications
from all over the English speaking world are recognised and in the
evaluation of these qualifications (undergraduate programme. Postgraduate
qualification without an undergraduate base is not acceptable) there is no
bias against any country other than that the medium of instruction is either
English or the National Language (Bahasa Malaysia).
There do exist reciprocal provisions for the recognition of qualification
for the registration of surveyors as provided in the legislation for the
registration of surveyors. As an example, under the Licensed Land Surveyors
Act 1958, the Land Surveyors Board may enter into arrangements with the
Surveyors Board or other competent authority of a reciprocating territory
for the recognition of the status of any person authorised by such Board or
other authority to practise as a licensed land surveyor in such
reciprocating territory and may prescribed what additional evidence of
character or competency must be produced before such person may be licensed
under the Act. The Board may enter into arrangements with the Surveyors
Board or other competent authority in a reciprocating territory for the
setting and acceptance of joint papers in professional subjects under the
examination rules prescribed by the Board.
The Institution of Surveyors Malaysia maintains a listing of recognised
qualification (basic degree in surveying) and this list includes many
qualifications attained from foreign institutions of higher learning. The
surveyors' registration boards also recognised many foreign qualifications.
A minimum of two year supervised postgraduate experience and the Test of
Professional Competence are a must even though the person might have
accepted educational qualification.
The assessment of qualification for accreditation and recognition,
whether local or foreign, is an ongoing exercise within the Institution and
the surveyor's registration boards.