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The start of a new era

The UniMET project has commenced and first partner meeting is being arranged. The partnership consists of nine major institutions from across Europe. The project’s ambition is to harmonise standards in maritime education and training across Europe, where there no mechanism (other than EMSA) exists to ensure that MET providers are following STCW 95 standards.

The start of a new era

UniMET will disseminate the outcomes of several recent and successful Leonardo projects which were instigated to harmonise the Maritime Education and Training (MET) in the European Union (EU) and seek international recognition for it. Through rigorous process UniMET will bring together the work and products of three key successful Leonardo da Vinci projects. Each project concentrated on a specific element of MET. The first is the Safety on Sea (SOS, 2005-2007) project which focussed on the transfer of innovation by reviewing the MET practices in several European Countries as well as the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Model and safety (ancillary) courses and the related requirements for education and training of merchant navy cadets and officers. The SOS work led to the development of a set of harmonised MET programmes (one for Deck and one for Marine Engineers at two levels viz., cadet and officer) for application in the EU. These programmes focused on improving safety at sea and in ports primarily through the enhancement of the existing education and training practices and adoption/adaptation of good practices in partner countries involved in the project. Early in the SOS project it was noted that sea training is an important part of the MET programmes and hence a Leonardo Mobility project named TRAIN 4Cs (2007) was formulated to implement the proposed sea training aspects of the SOS project.

TRAIN 4Cs programme also included transfer of several cadets to partner countries. The third project is the successful Leonardo EGMDSS (2006-2008). This project concerned the development of an online vocational education training programme for GMDSS Short Range Certificate (SRC). The SRC is mandatory for mariners operating vessels of up to 300 Gross Registered Tons within 30 Nautical Miles from coast and therefore adequate training is essential. The intention was primarily to develop an e-learning and assessment platform that can be adopted for all SOS units of education and training. This was an important task as the requirements of MET are changing on a continuous basis and yet since seafarers spend most of their time at sea they do not have the opportunity to attend courses on shore hence unable to benefit from these changes or receive qualifications/certificate for them. The platform is currently being used in the recently commenced MarTEL project. The results have been very successful as noted in the MarTEL interim report.

The final project is Maritime English units developed within SOS. However, it was noted that although there are IMO guidelines in the form of a Model Course (IMO 3.14) and IMO SMCP (Standard Maritime Communication Phrases), there are no standards for Maritime English. MarTEL has developed a set of maritime English language standards through the transfer of innovation from existing English language standards and maritime English models including IMO Model course 3.14 and SMCP. UniMet will in Phase One of the project, unify the dissemination process of these projects highlighting the common factor of maritime education and secure the recognition of related courses within each of the partner countries. The process will involve the exploitation of international maritime conferences and a host of web based dissemination materials providing appropriate organisation with the full knowledge of UniMET project courses, benefits and applications. Phase Two will expand the dissemination and recognition of UniMET across the European Union and pursue its acceptance by major awarding bodies and major organisations such as IMO, IMarEST and so forth. This will involve the inclusion ofthree new partner countries to the existing consortium and direct involvement of at least one major international accrediting body and one major international awarding body. There are currently 9 EU countries involved and the intended involvement of 3 more countries as well as at least a major accrediting and a major awarding body will form a formidable force to promote a harmonised and the most up-to-date MET programme which will have an online learning and assessment tool and in this way dissemination of the UniMET will encourage a unified MET programme for the EU and ultimately will promote safety at sea and in ports.

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