XVIII Surveying and Mapping Educators Conference, 2001:
A Spatial Odyssey
Hosted by Penn State Wilkes-Barre Surveying Program
July 15-19, 2001
International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) Surveying Education
Database and Academic Membership
by Robert W. Foster, President
The International Federation of Surveyors
Surveying education is being offered at colleges and universities in
nations around the world, with a variety of curriculum design and course
content depending on the needs of society and the nature of the profession
in each country. Surveying itself is subject to a variety of definitions;
the FIG definition of surveying is presented in nine categories.
In an effort to make information on university-level surveying
education available to students, potential students, academics and
institutions everywhere, FIG has developed a Surveying Education Database
listing nearly 400 courses from 200 universities in 60 nations covering
the full spectrum of surveying education according to the FIG definition.
The database is a Web-based tool with up-to-date information maintained by
the universities themselves.
FIG has recently added Academic Membership to its membership
categories. Academic membership is open to organizations, institutions and
agencies which promote surveying education or research in one or more of
the surveying disciplines defined by FIG. This level of membership is
intended to link the relevant institutions with practicing surveyors in
the over 100 countries represented in FIG membership and with companies
that supply commercial services in support of the surveying profession.
Keywords and phrases: Education database; academic membership;
diversity of curricula; definition of surveying; fields of specialization;
The Data Base
The Surveying Education Database (SEDB) was established by FIG
Commission 2 on Professional Education. Surveys conducted by FIG and the
Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy (CASLE) were
merged, then moved to the FIG web site in February, 2000, which in turn is
managed and maintained by the FIG office in Copenhagen.
Any academic department offering graduate and post-graduate courses in
any surveying discipline may place a standard entry on the SEDB which
currently contains information from 229 departments in 202 institutions
with over 370 surveying courses in 60 countries (as of May, 2001).
Departments are responsible for up-dating the information which they place
on the SEDB. Countries and institutions not yet included in the data base
are encouraged to provide the relevant data.
The data base is intended to enable students and potential students
from around the world to search out fields of study in surveying at the
under-graduate and graduate level. It also serves as a source of
information for educators both for purposes of comparison and for
networking. The statistics feature of the data base makes it possible to
make an analysis of surveying education world-wide.
The FIG definition of surveying describes nine activities "which
may occur either on, above or below the surface of the land or the sea and
may be carried out in association with other professionals". Those
activities, briefly, are:
- the determination of the size and shape of the earth,
- the positioning of physical features, structures and engineering
- the determination of the position of boundaries of public or private
- the design, establishment and administration of geographic
- the study of the natural and social environment for the planning of
development in urban, rural and regional areas,
- the planning, development and redevelopment of property,
- the assessment of value and the management of property,
- the planning, measurement and management of construction works and
- the production of plans, maps, files, charts and reports.
In the United States only one of those nine is the exclusive activity
of the licensed surveyor in most jurisdictions. Four more are activities
commonly performed by some US surveyors. The remaining four activities are
not considered to be within the scope of what we usually recognize as
"surveying" in the US. This diversity of surveying disciplines
is mirrored in the course content of surveying as taught around the world.
The SEDB lists the following fields of specialization:
- geodetic, land and cadastral and/or engineering surveying,
- planning, development and land use management (rural/agricultural
- building/architectural surveying,
- hydrographic surveying,
- minerals surveying,
- construction economics,
- valuation and real estate management and
- geographic information management/systems.
The diversity of curricula is further reflected in the departmental
designations of universities listed in the SEDB. For instance it is
- the Department of Spatial Sciences at Curtin University of
- the Department of Cartographic Engineering at the Federal University
of Pernambuco (Brazil),
- the Department of Geodetic Sciences and Remote Sensing at Laval
- the School of Surveying and Planning at Aalborg University
- the Department of Geosciences at Dresden University,
- the Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics at Hong Kong
- the Department of Geodesy and Cadastre at Vilnius Gediminas
Technical University (Lithuania),
- the Department of Surveying and Land Studies at Papua New Guinea
University of Technology,
- the Department of Geodetic Engineering at the University of the
- the School of Building & Estate Management at the National
University of Singapore,
- the Department of Quantity Surveying and Construction Management at
University of the Orange Free State (South Africa),
- the Institute of Engineering Surveying and Space Geodesy at the
University of Nottingham (UK) and
- the Department of Geography at the University College London.
In the United States we have Surveying Engineering Technology at New
Jersey Institute of Technology, Surveying Engineering at New Mexico State
University, and Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geodetic Science
at Ohio State University, among others.
Course content and departmental designations indicate not only the
broad array of disciplines within surveying world-wide, but the effort of
educational institutions to satisfy the needs of their own national
circumstances as well. The FIG Surveying Education Data Base is a
demonstration of this diversity; it is an opportunity for access to
information about educational opportunities, which is of value not only to
the education community but to the whole surveying profession. Surveying
education at the college and university level is the life-blood of the
surveying profession, a fact that is especially relevant here in the US
where the profession struggles to define itself and assure a place for
itself in the evolving technologies and institutions of this new century.
In 1998 FIG introduced a new form of membership for organizations,
institutions or agencies which promote education or research in one or
more of the surveying disciplines. A feature of this initiative is that it
will link universities or their faculties or departments that are
responsible for surveying education with practicing surveyors in 110 or
more countries and with companies which provide commercial services in
support of the surveying profession.
Academic Members have all the privileges of full membership in FIG with
the exception of voting rights in the General Assembly. (Academic Members
will be seated at General Assembly sessions and may address the GA on
issues.) In addition Academic Members may add pictures or additional
information to their standard entries in the SEDB. This additional
information might include or promote special courses, exchange programs,
distance learning opportunities, CPD activities, research projects or a
brief educational or scientific profile of the institution.
FIG is an international UN-recognized non-government organization (NGO)
whose purpose is to support international collaboration for the progress
of surveying in all fields and applications. It is a federation of
national associations and is the only international body that represents
all surveying disciplines.
With the addition of Wuhan University (China) and the University of
Nottingham at the FIG Working Week 2001 in Seoul, their are currently 37
Academic Members of FIG. They come from 25 different countries. For some
developing countries the academic membership has offered the only way to
international co-operation for the local surveyors.
Other membership categories in FIG are Member Associations (85 from 72
countries), Affiliate (6), Correspondent (16), and Corporate (17).
The annual subscription for Academic Membership is $150. A membership
application e-form may be found at http://www.fig.net/figtree/sedb/am_join.asp.
Robert W. Foster
President of FIG
International Federation of Surveyors FIG
Lindevangs Alle 4
Tel. + 45 3886 1081
Fax + 45 3886 0252
Web site: www.fig.net