Enthusiasm for a points system to shorten and simplify the path to BCS professional membership has been so great that the society is now preparing to go live with the scheme as early as 1 May, writes John Kavanagh.
The system got the green light at the quarterly meeting of the governing council this month. Deputy chief executive Colin Thompson reports that the work has been completed three months ahead of schedule, thanks largely to the support and help received from all BCS boards and committees.
The new arrangements will mean that graduates from BCS accredited courses could be eligible to apply for the associate grade just one year after graduation. An immediate priority will be to contact all computer science students due to graduate this year.
Another priority will be to write to the many existing members who will now be eligible to apply for a higher grade.
Edward Wolton, chairman of the Young Professionals Group, is among the council members who welcome the scheme.
"I applaud the drop in the minimum age for associate membership to 22," he says. "This should cut the considerable drop-out rate among students."
The arrangements will be launched to other groups later in the year, after an extensive market survey.
The new scheme gives a set number of points to different degrees, years of experience and training. People can then quickly calculate whether they are eligible for a professional grade.
In addition, the number of years' experience required for the higher grades is being reduced. This means that individuals could apply to become an associate after one year instead of three, and a member after four years instead of six.
The new scheme will also enable applicants to claim credit for factors not previously reflected in membership assessment.
Points earned on the society's Continuing Professional Development scheme will count towards membership. And it is planned that points will be available for other qualifications, including NVQs and certificates and diplomas from the BCS Information Systems Examinations Board and IT companies.
"The new scheme removes complexity from our entry requirements without reducing standards," says Thompson.
"Applicants will still have to show that they have the necessary level of competence in IT, but they will generally be able to apply for professional membership earlier in their career."
Meanwhile, work has started on defining a new grade - certified affiliate - between affiliate and the professional grades. It is aimed mainly at people joining IT from school on training schemes such as modern apprenticeships.
"The aim here is to give greater recognition than the basic affiliate grade and to provide a clear path to professional membership in due course," Thompson explains.