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ARB won't take our validation powers, RIBA tells schools

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The riba has moved to reassure heads of schools of architecture that it has no intention of ceding its powers of validation to the arb.

riba honorary vice-president of education Paul Hyett last week told the schosa conference in Glasgow that it would be 'dangerous in the extreme' to consider letting the arb take over, because validation allows schools freedom from core curriculums and prepares students for more than just architectural practice. It is also important to keep the riba name connected to schools to attract foreign students.

'Woe betide us all if we allow it to be replaced by a system that is unable to respond to change - and let alone encourage it - that restricts experimentation in the process and that seeks to standardise the product.'

Hyett told the conference that arb registrar Andrew Finch has 'quite clearly committed himself to achieving a substantial and independent role for the arb in all its forms and stages - not just at the point of entry into the profession'. He added that Finch's position was based on a legal counsel he took which said the present validation system is unlawful, but the riba's legal advice gave a 'quite contradictory opinion'. Finch's advice, given by Queen's counsel, was that the validation and assessment panels are not lawful because the board cannot delegate its power or have its decision 'fettered' by arrangement with other bodies.' The riba's legal opinion said that the arb is free to continue with the process and there is no provision for it to be terminated.

However, arb chair Barbara Kelly has written to riba president David Rock to assure him that the existing jv procedures will continue certainly until September 1999, when Colin Stansfield Smith's review of education is expected to come on stream. The review is based on the view that architectural education would benefit from a freeing-up of structures to enable more varied careers to evolve from within the system. A discussion paper on the reviews, aimed at enabling a 'positive and far-reaching debate' acording to Hyett, will be published later this year.

Nether regions: a 'living bridge' constructed of 100 naked painted bodies launched the fourth showing of the Royal Academy's 'Living Bridges' exhibition at the Netherlands Architecture Institute last week. The show remains in Rotterdam until December when it goes to Japan for a 12-month, four-venue tour

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