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  • Written exams exemptions

    Just heard that the MCA are reviewing the exemptions for OOW and chief mate's writtens that you currently get for completing a foundation degree or professional diploma (in Scotland) course. There is a possiblility that the exemptions will be removed, although this won't be decided until July.

    Thoughts on this? As someone who is currently in the middle of said course, its slightly annoying that I might have to do writtens and on the face of it, if this does go ahead, it would seem to remove any motivation whatsoever to do the foundation degree/PD. Why do all that extra work when you could just do the HNC/D and save yourself some stress? I suppose technically the FD/PD is a better academic qualification but once you have your OOW ticket then I doubt that is really going to make any difference...

  • #2
    I don't understand what the difference in the overall learning is between HND/FD. I completed my HND and some of my friends completed FD, we both know the same things, the only difference that i noticed was that the FD gang did longer (but fewer) stints at college and sea, also that I (HND) did 6 months of chief mates during my phase 7 (nightmare !!)
    my only wish is that i die real.

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    • #3
      I will add a different point of view; Having been in the first group of students to complete the FdDg we were used to things changing at the last minute all through our course (thanks to the mistakes with us, you guys now have a much better course lol).

      I (and 4 other people) are currently at Warsash, having arrived last week to do a 8 week revision course and then sit our Orals. We were nicely advised of the potential changes last monday. As a precaution we are dropping in on the Chief Mates (post HND) Stability classes (they started theirs 5 weeks ago).

      I will be perfectly honest, all of us are glad to be in the stability classes - yes, we covered it all and were examined on it all back during the Foundation Degree - but that was 3 years ago and we ain't used it since! It's fair to say that we had all pretty much forgotten it!

      Fortunately over the past week, it has all came back to us - so it must have sunk in and been stored somewhere at the back of our brains.

      Personally my only issue with potentially having to sit the SQA Stability exam is that it will delay my ability to get my CoC and therefore go back to work! Something that I would quite like to do. My reason for this attitude is simple; STABILITY is important! As Chief Officer you will be responsible for it and if you **** it up, you're going to end up very wet or if you're lucky fired!

      Let's face it - if we do not have to sit the SQA Stability exam... we can expect that the MCA are going to hammer us with stability during our Orals exam.

      Foundation Degree in my opinion was always a money saver for the college / companies - it is the same level (technically) as an HND (as far as UCAS are concerned) - I didn't even know it existed until my company put me on it and the same applied to most of us on that first foundation degree course!
      ?Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn?t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.?

      ? Mark Twain
      myBlog | @alistairuk | flickr | youtube Views and opinions expressed are those of myself and not representative of any employer or other associated party.

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      • #4
        What is the present situation with exemptions from the SQA Exams for the Chief Mate ticket when you do the Foundation Degree course? The SQA's are probably the worst exams I've ever done.

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        • #5
          Can't speak for the guys on the FD in England but in Scotland on the PD the main difference is that we have to do 3 subjects to do with professional development during our second phase at college and then have to try and apply these to our time on board and write lengthy reports about them whilst we are away on our final sea phase. Quite why writing 10,000 word reports on leadership, project management and communication should get you an expemption from your MCA written exams I have absolutely no idea. For this reason it probably makes sense for them to remove the exemptions but for selfish reasons I'd rather they didn't. Not until I'm qualified anyway.

          The other differences are mainly to do with the speed the course is taught at. We basically do the entire HNC in the first college phase then the HND in the second college phase, so the whole thing probably only takes about 15 months of college time in total (not including sea time, holidays etc). I don't really think this is an advatage either. The masses of information that you are given in such a short space of time leads to being taught to pass the exam, rather than taught the subject and makes it difficult to take it all in sometimes. I also think its a major factor in the high drop out rate that I have witnessed.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by AncientMariner View Post
            What is the present situation with exemptions from the SQA Exams for the Chief Mate ticket when you do the Foundation Degree course? The SQA's are probably the worst exams I've ever done.
            I believe that if you complete the PD or the foundation degree then you do not have to sit written exams for OOW or chief mates. By worst do you mean most difficult? Something to look forward to...

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            • #7
              I think if it is implemented it should be done with the new intake in September/January. That way they know from the start that they are not exempt. I wouldn't be a happy bunny if I find out when I come back for my final phase that I've got writtens to do...I thought that was what graded units 1,2 and 3 were for, they are equivalent to sitting mca writtens. JohnF88 is right, what motivation do I have to do the projects at sea when at the end of the day it's not going to make a difference when it comes to getting me ticket.

              I also agree with Alistairuk, stability is very very important. Personally quite enjoy the subject (but that's just my geeky side coming out!) However I think that the exemption of the mca writtens should only apply to OOW level as everything is still fresh e.g. graded units. I would want to do writtens for my mates just for the sheer safety factor as Alistairuk says. I don't think by doing the PD course that we should be exempt from mates writtens.
              The bird is the word

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              • #8
                I can't imagine that the removal of exemptions would be retrospective? What implications would that have for currently qualified chiefs who did the FD and obviously didn't do their written chief's exams? Would their ticket be suspended until they took the written exams or what?
                "Crazy like wild wolves threatened by fire, send them all to the bottom of the sea."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ducki52 View Post
                  I can't imagine that the removal of exemptions would be retrospective? What implications would that have for currently qualified chiefs who did the FD and obviously didn't do their written chief's exams? Would their ticket be suspended until they took the written exams or what?
                  Maybe, none, and no.

                  If you had a CoC obtained with exemptions it would remain valid. What they may do is say to those like Alistair coming up to sit their Mate's, "see how you were told your degree exempted you from Mate's writtens? It doesn't! Deal with it..." But I think Alistair is OK, they should give some warning before implementing a change.

                  The big change is removing exemption from OOW writtens. AFAIK those were largely done away with when the HND was introduced way back in the distant mists of time. AIUI it's pretty much only ex-ratings (not following an HNC/HND route) who have sat OOW writtens in recent years.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Steve View Post
                    The big change is removing exemption from OOW writtens. AFAIK those were largely done away with when the HND was introduced way back in the distant mists of time. AIUI it's pretty much only ex-ratings (not following an HNC/HND route) who have sat OOW writtens in recent years.
                    Not sure that's entirely true. I know for a fact those doing the HNC still do writtens, as I know a guy who is currently preparing to sit them. Those on the HND I'm not so sure about although I was always under the impression that the FD/PD were the only courses that granted exemptions.

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                    • #11
                      I do not believe that one group of people should be exempted from the SQA exams and one not. I do not buy into the thinking that the FD somehow prepares you better for the Chief Officer CoC than the HND. The SQA exams are tough things to get though and yes, you will probably have a tougher time in an orals if you are somehow exempted from them it still seems quite unfair as an overall concept.
                      Progression to the Chief Mates course has been very badly thought out. They pulled support for the NVQ route too quickly leaving many in limbo and promising exemptions without thinking through the need to maintain standards across the board. In short. A complete mess.
                      Cruise ship Captain with experience on-board Passenger Vessels ranging from 5500-150000 GRT.

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                      • #12
                        If you don't get exemptions. Might as well scrap the PD/FD. Who would do all the extra work that goes with it for little to know benefit. What we need is a definitive answer so people can make choices about their training so nobody wastes time or effort.

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                        • #13
                          Lewis, I am sorry, but I disagree with you.

                          The benefit IS different. At the end of your course, if you do the FD course you have a Foundation Degree. It is a higher qualification. You must expect it to be harder, more in depth and for you to have a greater knowledge at the end of it. It is also easier to then follow it up with a complete degree when you do Mates/Masters. This then translates into a level of qualification that others understand and relate to. That is why you do not just do your Certificate of Competency. As far as I am aware it is your CoC that allows you to keep your watch, not your Diploma or degree.

                          When I went to sea this was not a choice. You either went in with O levels or A levels. If you went in with A levels you missed out 6 months of college but you still had to do all the written exams. There were no exemptions. Now I appreciate that things have changed over the years but at the end of the day ALL of the exams are there to prove your competence. From navigation, to safety, to stability and cargo operations you must be competent.

                          Have you stopped to think why this is one of the few professions that still has an orals exam? It is because the examiner can put you on the hotspot and push you. He needs to see how you react to the testing and also to find out any areas of weakness and probe them. He has to prove to himself that you are competent to be a Navigation Officer. But the exams you sit are seperate from your degree/hnd/diploma/nvq. Therefore I agree with HolyNougat here, there should be no exeptions from the exams that make up the CoC.

                          However, if there has been a transitional mess then that is not the fault of the candidates. That should have been sorted out BEFORE the transition to FD began.

                          Ian
                          "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
                          "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

                          "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.

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                          • #14
                            Any more news on this?

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