Graduate attributes are now a ubiquitous feature of higher education in Australia and internationally, and have been part of engineering education for more than a decade. The idea of graduate attributes is an apparently simple concept, focusing on educational outcomes, rather than inputs and process. While there is evidence of some benefits in engineering education arising from the introduction of outcomes-based accreditation, there is also evidence of many short-comings of the graduate attributes approach. There would be significant value in Engineers Australia providing additional discipline-specific guidance on attribute development. There would be significant value in Engineers Australia simplifying and consolidating the current multi-document accreditation system. A genuinely outcomes-based accreditation system would be based (only) on the demonstrated individual student attainment of appropriate graduate attributes, which might be delivered/gained by a range of means, including distance education. To fully meet the letter and spirit of the law for accreditation, programs will need to adopt some method of certification of individual student attainment of graduate attributes - one such method would be the use of student portfolios.
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