Qualifications and Membership
I am posting this thread because I raised a question on an earlier thread by Andy Nye ( <a href="http://www.bsacforum.co.uk/forums/clubforum/posts/1426.html" >http://www.bsacforum.co.uk/forums/clubforum/posts/1426.html</a>) which no-one seemed able to answer fully. Having had some replies from BSAC HQ I thought I'd share the information with you. I apologise in advance for the length of this post.
Andy mentioned (and I quote):
"...Then being told that if I leave BSAC that any qualifications that I had gained were then void, IE Nitrox ticket. I thought, think NOT, (if you pass your car test, you have a licence till you're 70, unless health or a ban takes it away from you ). I passed O levels at school, I took a test and got a certificate saying I passed, so when I left school, they can't and didn't take them away.... "
This got me wondering whether all my BSAC diving qualifications were indeed 'void' as Andy suggested, so I wrote to BSAC HQ for a definitive answer.
Here is the e-mail I sent:
There have been a number of postings on the BSAC forums regarding
membership and qualifications.
I am wondering if you or one of your colleagues can give me a definitive
answer to the following:
1. Are BSAC qualifications (O/D, S/D, etc plus the various skill
qualifications such as Nitrox, O2 Administration) valid ONLY whilst the
diver remains a fully paid-up member of BSAC?
2. If a diver is late (perhaps there are different degrees of
'lateness') in renewing a subscription, are the diver's qualifications no
longer valid during the period where renewal is still outstanding?
3. If a diver does not renew his membership but, let us say wishes to
recommence membership some years later, what is the status of that diver's
qualifications during the interim period and upon renewal?
I ask this because on the BSAC diver cards it states: (eg, my Advanced
Diver card) "This card is valid only whilst the holder is a current member
of the BSAC". There is no such qualification on my Advanced Nitrox Diver
card. Again, in the blue logbook it states: "This Qualification Record
Book is not valid unless there is a current BSAC Membership Receipt on
page 37, an in-date certificate of Fitness to Dive on page 5 and the
appropriate qualification certificates have been duly validated by the
Branch Diving Officer"
None of my stickers have been validated (they have just been stuck in my
book). What is meant by 'validation?' One of those stickers, for example,
is for "Advanced Nitrox Diver". So which has precedence - the Advanced
Nitrox card without the conditions written on the card, or the sticker in
What happens in the case of Self-Certification? Is the diver expected to
place a copy of the self-cert in the logbook? Does this copy need
'validating' in some way too?
I do hope you will be able to clarify these issues for me.
BSAC HQ were at pains to ensure their accuracy of their response and asked me to quote their reply verbatim. Here it is:
BSAC qualifications are only current whilst a member is fully paid up member
of BSAC. Once a members membership renewal date has passed and no payment
has been received by the branch the member is deemed not to be a current
member of BSAC. The same applies to the qualification cards.
Please note rule 18 of the Articles and Association and Rules of the BSAC
"Any member who for any cause whatsover shall cease to be a member shall
immediately discontinue the use of any device of BSAC printed or impressed
on any document or other material or any other indication of membership of
BSAC and shall not make any use of the name or purport to use the authority
of BSAC and shall forthwith return to the Honorary Secretary any property of
BSAC then in his possession."
Regarding the validation of your qualification stickers these are validated
once they have been stuck in your qualification book and if required have
been stamped with the branch stamp. Your Advanced Nitrox Diver sticker and
your Advanced Nitrox Card compliment each other and neither takes precedence
over the other.
In the case of the Self-Certification certificates a copy should be kept
with the members qualification record book and a copy given to the branch
I hope the above answers your original enquiry and please do not hesitate to
contact me if I can be of further assistance.
The answer was clear: upon cessation of membership my qualifications become invalid. But if I choose to leave BSAC, or even fail to renew my membership on time, but still wanted to do some occasional diving with friends or dive abroad on holiday, where would that put me? I decided to put two further questions:
1. When I cease to be a member of BSAC (through non-payment of
subscription on the day the renewal falls due), I am technically from that
moment on an unqualified diver and instructor.
2. Furthermore, from the moment of cessation, rule 18 requires me to cease
using my QRB, cards and any other proof of being qualified to dive through
Are both these statements correct?
If so, is my status as a diver (but excluding my experience which cannot
be taken away) no different at that moment from an unqualified diver just
thinking about joining BSAC and commencing Ocean Diver Training?
My query was then put through to a different BSAC Officer who contacted me via the telephone. Following that I received the following e-mail (again shown verbatim, so apologies for the repetition of my earlier questions):
Yes, since our recent discussion, we have looked at these points you raise:
"I am left wondering however, why my qualifications become invalid once I have left BSAC. My 'O' levels, 'A' levels, degree, teaching certificate, driving licence all remain valid once awarded. The same is true also for PADI diving qualifications. RYA issue qualifications on a similar basis too."
Like all the above, BSAC qualifications are certificates of attainment - not continued competence.
As regards Rule 18, mentioned in our conversation - this is a rule that all members agree to when they become members. The other agencies that you mention are not 'mutual'-type, member's organisations like the BSAC. This is in part because as a member of the organisation your actions (or lack of action) reflects directly on the organisation you are a member of (this is also the case with PADI Instructors and DMs hence their need for membership). Without current membership, the BSAC has no ability to control or discipline anyone who brings it's reputation (and that of all it's members) into disrepute and therefore this is one of the reasons why Rule 18 exists to prevent non-members from representing (or misrepresenting) themselves as a member of the organisation when they no longer are. It is necessarily a requirement that to instruct and receive instruction within a BSAC Branch, membership is required.
"Is there a reason why BSAC have chosen this route? I suppose it could be argued that qualifications alone are no indicator of competence - after all it does depend how often a diver dives, the conditions and over what length of time. Perhaps that is why most schools abroad (and in this country) ask divers to present both qualification card/certs as well as their log book. However, it would appear that divers qualifying with BSAC would not be able to present even their proof of qualifications if they ceased to be a member - and that surely places them at a disadvantage."
No. In reality, a certificate of achievement and diving experience is all diving centres really look for. However evidence of continued membership of the BSAC can indicate that the member has access to all the benefits of membership and an active Branch member is more likely to be up-to-date and been diving recently/regularly. It is also a clear indication that a body in addition to the individual assumes at least some responsibility for their continued responsible behaviour and adherence to their training and Safe Diving Practices (i.e. a complaint can be made about them to their DO or the BSAC etc.) In addition continued membership guarantees third party liability cover which some place significant reliance on.
"Where there is concern over issues of competence, such as most first aid awards, there is a time-expiry which demands first aiders be reassessed periodically. This is understandable since first aiders do not keep a log book of all the casualties they treat, if any. With divers the situation IS different: the log book is the sole indicator of currency and the certificates/cards confirm the level of training undertaken by the diver and a statement that he or she has met the required standard at that level."
Yes. I think that you have answered your own question here.
"Finally I note that BSAC diver levels have a CMAS equivalent. The cards are now endorsed with the appropriate number of stars. I am not aware that CMAS revoke the qualification once awarded, so how does this square?"
The CMAS guide to equivalencies in diver training agency's qualifications is just that - equivalence, not a qualification.
Finally, regarding continued membership, the BSAC is a 'member's' organisation, where the controlled and supportive environment provided by the Branch continues to provide further development to qualified divers as well as regular diving opportunities. The BSAC training programme is illustrative of our belief that safe diving requires two fundamental elements namely training and experience. Continued membership beyond training helps ensure that the experience is build not just on sound training but also within a controlled and supportive environment. If all BSAC trained divers, once they attained the level of qualification that they wish to reach ceased membership, then the BSAC would become something more like a pale imitation of commercial training organisations where the driving force is profit. As a members Club, our driving force is to not just train but to continually support and advise our members to ensure they can continue enjoy their diving safely.
Just a small selection of this support and advice includes:
BSAC produce training programmes with internationally recognised diver grades and specialist skill development courses.
An active Coaching Scheme helping Branches and running courses.
Instructor training - progressive, structured programme that supports all training.
Representation of divers interests throughout the UK (e.g. RoSPA, SITA, interaction with RNLI, MCA etc.)
A magazine delivered to you each month.
Extensive third party liability cover for all members.
Special deals on travel insurance, AA membership, Sea Start cover.
Special rate for your HFC/Beneficial Bank platinum credit card.
Maintenance of several informative websites with a mass of information, news flashes, forums, forthcoming events, mailshop etc. etc.
The Travel Club offers 10% discount for members on all Hayes & Jarvis Holidays plus travel guides, trip planners, directories, airlines and travel books.
Plus countless more benefits.
Hope this helps.
I replied to this e-mail raising some additional points and questions:
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. There are a few questions we discussed which are not answered by your e-mail and it is to these that that I would like to focus our attention in what is hopefully my last e-mail on the subject.
From the replies given by yourself and (other officer) it is a matter of fact that my qualifications are valid only whilst continuing to be a member. I can see this as being essential where instructor qualifications are concerned because instructors do represent BSAC and are responsible to BSAC for ensuring the training delivered meets the requirements of the DTP in every respect. We can therefore put the issue of instructor qualifications to one side.
My questions concern, therefore, only the diver grades.
The issue of competence, we are agreed, is as much a function of continued diving in a variety of conditions as it is to do with the levels of achievement attained during training, such achievement being reflected in the various diver grades and the award of a corresponding qualification. As time goes on, it could be argued that continued diving activity (as evidenced by a log-book) becomes significantly more important as an indicator of competence (or at least diving experience) than any previous qualification achieved, let us say, many years earlier. We can therefore put the issue of competence/experience to one side.
The core of my concern rests on the fact that I am prevented from using my QRB (and plastic cards) as evidence of achievement because of Rule 18. Without membership the QRB and cards are invalid. Therefore, if I were to leave BSAC or let my membership lapse, I am in the position of not being able to show evidence of achievement to any dive school (or indeed any other organisation should I wish to obtain a cross-over qualification) because to do so would misrepresent the fact that I am no longer a member. I can show only my log book which shows continued diving experience and no more. With, for example, a PADI AOW qualification I can continue to show my qualification card once awarded, so it is in this respect that I am at a disadvantage with my BSAC qualifications once I cease to be a member.
Q1: Is this correct?
The further question I asked is whether, under Rule 18, I am required to return my BSAC qualification cards and QRB because BSAC regards them as the property of BSAC.
Q2: If so, then (from the position of qualifications, not experience) I am in a position no different from a complete novice diver who has yet to achieve any diving qualification. I would have no proof of my diver grade. Is this correct?
If it is not the case that I have to return my QRB then, to prove my diver grade, all I would be able to say to a diving school or other organisation is: "Here is my QRB. It shows what I achieved in the past but it's no longer valid, because I'm not a member".
Q3: Is this permissible or against the spirit of Rule 18?
Here is the final reply from BSAC HQ:
If membership lapses, there is no requirement to return the QRB or Q-card - they are not BSAC's property. This answers Q 1 & 2.
As regards your Q3: "Here is my QRB. It shows what I achieved in the past but it's no longer valid, because I'm not a member".
Yes - you can say that - it's true. Rule 18 says that one must return any property of the BSAC then in his possession'.
I wish I had studied the rules more carefully when going the BSAC route. I would have preferred a situation where my qualifications, once awarded (with the exception of my instructor qualifications - which I agree MUST be membership dependent), remained with me without the condition of 'membership'. Let me make it clear that I have no plans to leave BSAC, but I know others who have left and some who have been very late in renewing their membership.
One wonders what the implications for insurance are in such circumstances.
If I leave BSAC then I become a PADI O/W diver (my very first and only other non-BSAC diving qualification), restricted to 18m. I will still be qualified to blend Nitrox (TDI) and have an RYA Short wave/GMDSS certificate but no first aid qualifications. If I want to dive 'privately' my guess is that my insurance will limit me to 18m, no nitrox. All-in-all a messy situation that would need sorting out with the possibility of re-qualifying with a different agency.
I hope this post has proved interesting/useful.
Re: Qualifications and Membership
I also had the concerns you raise regarding continued membership to maintain 'diver status'. I did the TDI nitrox course, (cost about ?90.00) and on successful completion was issued with a TDI 'nitrox diver' card and certificate for dives up to 40 metres. If I was to leave the BSAC I think this card would be accepted by any diving centre as proof of current diver status. (Because the card has no photograph you usually have to produce photo ID as well such as a drivers licence/passport etc.)
Re: Qualifications and Membership
I'm lacking a bit of comprehension regarding the purpose of this thread. As an ex member of this organisation I recently (January) joined another agency who, after looking at both my *previous* qualifications and assessing my level of competence (dive logs, pool & open water), put me through a level of retraining and thus I am now 'retrained' and re-qualified to the equivalent grade.
Now, if you?re talking about leaving BSAC say today and then joining another organisation tomorrow, I doubt any training agency would consider your BSAC qualifications as "lapsed" Unless of course you hadn't dived for an expended period of time then, like any responsible DO would, they'd assess you.
If your talking about leaving BSAC, becoming an independent diver (without membership of any agency) and yet wishing to produce a BSAC C card as proof of your qualification(s) I'd have to question this (respectfully) Why ?
Are you in fact thinking of leaving BSAC ? If this IS the case then surely you'd want to maintain some form of membership/affiliation with one of the other training agencies ?
" I also had the concerns you raise regarding continued membership to maintain 'diver status'. I did the TDI nitrox course, (cost about ?90.00) and on successful completion was issued with a TDI 'nitrox diver' card and certificate for dives up to 40 metres. If I was to leave the BSAC I think this card would be accepted by any diving centre as proof of current diver status. (Because the card has no photograph you usually have to produce photo ID as well such as a drivers licence/passport etc.)"
I also have qualifications issued to me from TDI yet, I wouldn't consider myself able to present such a qualification card if my diving experience wasn't current, and therein lays (IMHO) the issue.
BSAC are effectively saying that you can use a C card issued by them only when you are a paid up member, this would give a good indication (as already stated in the BSAC response) that you are up to date in your training and experience. Ok so you could present your Dive Logbook as an equal/better indication of this but, how would a diving facility know that those dives have actually been completed and a genuine indication of a diver's experience ?
I have to agree that you raise some interesting points; ones that I?m sure could have reaching implications given the right set of circumstances.
Re: Qualifications and Membership
I would have thought that it was obvious; to provide evidence of having attained a level of diving certification. To be honest, I have yet to see any place want evidence of membership ; their only desire is to show that you have reached a suitable level for the diving being undertaken
Why ? To go diving, I can just go to a dive shop and get on a boat
I don't use my BSAC qualification these days when asked for evidence; the TDI Deco Procedures / Advanced Nitrox qualifications satisfy as good as any BSAC one
I disagree; all it shows is that you are up to date with BSAC membership subscriptions or have taken lifetime membership.
Overall I think it is basically a theoretical problem since I have yet to find a place wanting to see proof of membership when a BSAC qualification is presented but I cannot see any validity in BSAC trying to claim that a diver is only qualified whilst they maintain donations to BSACs coffers. Either the diver qualified at a grade or they did not.
On the comment "The CMAS guide to equivalencies in diver training agency's qualifications is just that - equivalence, not a qualification" ; if it isn't a CMAS qualification on the reverse of the card, why did the fee for the card go up by 70% and now purport to be CMAS rather than the previous "BSAC considers to be equivalent to CMAS Star Diver?
Re: Qualifications and Membership
A while back the question was raised about the validity of BSAC quals when BSAC membership lapsed, and IIRC no one from an authoritative BSAC position gave an answer, so ric is just letting us know what the official BSAC position is.
Then you present the card along with your recent diving experience and then dive within the limits of your experience. You would be in the same situation if you were a BSAC AD/OWI etc but had spent the last year away with work/off diving due to illness etc.
How would a diving centre know that the dives in a log book of a paid up BSAC member are a genuine indication of a diver's experience? I fail to see how being a paid up member of BSAC would make my log book more trustworthy
Re: Qualifications and Membership
Well done in getting a very clear answer. I am sure that it is not what you or many others want to hear. I think the basic problem is that in 1953 Rule 18 made a lot of sense. But in 2003 it makes very little sense.
It leaves us with potential for some interesting situations;
The dive school which issues a qualification which is void should the cutomer decide not to buy BSAC membership!
As a branch chairman I have a duty to do what is best for my branch members. But what is best practice, for instance promoting BSAC SDCs which grant temporary qualification, or promoting the alternative RYA / TDI /St john course where qualification is not conditional on membership.
So why don't BSAC change it? AIUI a rule like this can only be changed by a vote at AGM. Unfortunately the apathy of the majority will make such an undertaking very difficult indeed.
Fancy Taking it on?
Re: Qualifications and Membership
It seems to me that the only reason you would be interested in the log book is to undertake further training. Most agencies require a diving grade plus some dives before moving to another qualification. So, for example, BSAC Basic Nitox plus 10 EAN dives and you can do the TDI/IANTD Advanced EAN.
Most commercial intructors would take your logbook and BSAC stamps as "proof" (if the agancy accepts BSAC qualifications - not sure about the lack of EAD in the nitrox) as they are looking to get their hands on your cash!!
Your "C Card" is sort-of valid as proof you can dive so no hassle.
Now - what happens if you don't buy one of those nice plastic "C Cards" before you leave...
Re: Qualifications and Membership
But why would a dive school promote BSAC anyway?
Nearly all dive schools that run BSAC courses are also PADI.
Jo Wannabe comes in and I can say here is the PADI OW course.
X pounds and you are certified worldwide forever.
Heres the BSAC course X pounds, BUT you need to join BSAC and
pay forever more if you want to use it.
Not exactly an advert for joining BSAC is it?
IMO the awnser is to split the grades in the same way as PADI.
OW, AOW & Rescue are diver grades. DM OWSI etc. are pro grades
and to use them you must be "in status" (a member).
So why not have an open grade that doesnt need membership for
Ocean & Sports, but must be a member to go on the IFC or become
DL and beyond.
This way, anybody that leves BSAC would automaticly be at the
very least a Sport Diver.
There might be an initial drop in base membership, but that
would IMO be easily made up by all those new and enthuisiastic
members who do BSAC Ocean diver and go onto join clubs.
Re: Qualifications and Membership
As an Ocean Diver trained through a school, membership of BSAC is encouraged but not mandatory. See link <a href="http://www.bsac.org/learn/school1.htm" >http://www.bsac.org/learn/school1.htm</a>
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