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A better world through a systems approach

How do we make certification more equitable? Part One - Fees

Courtney Wright

Jun 03, 2022
The INCOSE Board of Directors recently approved a modification to the application fees for ASEP certification. The fees now align with PPP pricing as used for individual memberships. PPP pricing takes into account the average income levels across countries and helps adjust prices so that those with lower incomes pay lower rates. 

As systems engineers, we often start our analysis of options by asking, "What the problem we're trying to solve?" INCOSE Certification has a problem that it is not currently recognizing competent systems engineers from low-income parts of the world. We are looking to mitigate that by making the burden of certification fees more comparable to the burden felt for individuals in high-income countries. We believe in the concept of adjusting costs relative to income level, and PPP is the blunt instrument INCOSE has chosen to make those adjustments. For consistency, the Certification Program has chosen to use that same tool for its cost adjustments. 

There are several other fee adjustments the Certification Program has already made to be more equitable. They are worth reflecting on. First, there are exam fees. The online exam fee is standard for all candidates, even if they require accommodations that raise the cost of delivery (e.g., a proctor staying on for additional time). Those fees are not passed along to the candidates but rather are accounted for in the standard fee paid by all. Similarly, in-person, paper exams are offered at a flat rate regardless of the costs of proctor travel. If we did not do this, then the communities with the most SEPs, already, would also have the most available proctors and cheapest exam fees, thereby exacerbating imbalance. Two final differences in in-person exam fees: student are not charged a fee for an in-person exam and fees are often waived for beta exams. 

The second and third certification fees are application fees and renewal fees. ASEP application fees are now adjusted as described at the top of this post. A further, temporary reduction for ASEPs who apply from Academic Equivalencies in low-income countries will be announced in late 2022. There are currently no AcEq programs in PPP2 and PPP3 countries, so that additional discount is not yet relevant. Adjustments on CSEP and ESEP application fees will be considered in the coming year, along with adjustments on renewal fees.