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Education set for radical shake-up

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The whole concept of architects' registration will be thrown into disarray if the recommendations of the Stansfield Smith review of architects' education are adopted. Presented to riba council yesterday (Wednesday) the report calls for the riba to change to 'a dual structure of full members, Associate and Chartered. Both categories of membership should have a designated nomenclature in title.'

But only chartered members would be qualified for registration with the arb. Associate members would therefore be describing themselves as 'architects' despite not qualifying for registration, precisely the situation against which the arb has been crusading.

The aims of the report are set out in the introduction by its vice-chair Helen Mallinson: 'the registered vocations should indeed represent the skills required to procure a high-quality built environment but the profession at large also has to advance the discourse of architecture and the many different forms of learning involved.'

In terms of education itself, the report calls for a 'seven-year continuum of credits' to replace the current more rigid system of Parts I, II and III; for the 'vigorous' promotion of research and specialisms. The riba should set up registers of qualified, specialist practitioners in areas such as sustainable design, conservation, urban design and project management, it says.

It also suggests the setting up of 'an independent but representative' Architectural College to take responsibility for validation of core and specialist courses.

The report sets targets of 2000 and 2001 for achieving its goals, so that students entering courses in 2001 will experience the changes and the first new visiting boards would go to schools of architecture in 2002.

Council was only being asked to note the report yesterday. The next stage should then be discussion of its findings with interested bodies, including arb, schosa and the Quality Assurance Agency. A recommendation for action would come back to council in four to six months.

Paul Hyett, riba vice-president for education, said of the Stansfield Smith report, 'It signifies potentially the biggest shift in the direction and outcomes of architectural education since the 1958 Oxford conference. It enables the profession through embracing a wider spectrum of education to position itself to achieve a much greater contribution to the construction industry, and the management and development of our cities.'

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