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EU backs eastern European schools without inspection

The EU is set to recognise all schools of architecture in the countries joining the union in 2005 without checking their standards or qualifications.

The decision will mean all architects from Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia will be free to work in a professional capacity throughout the union.

The EU announced last week that inspecting every school in these countries before 2005 was not feasible and insisted that the only other option was to grant all their graduates the freedom to work.

The Architects' Council of Europe's chief policy officer, Tillman Prinz, said the decision was worrying because there will be no formal accreditation.

'Schools throughout eastern Europe are very different, ' he told the AJ. 'There have been concerns, but I hope we can get it to work OK.'

The decision to recognise all the schools came after officials sent on an EU pilot scheme to accredit medical schools in Poland reported that the task was impossible. The commission decided that the only alternative was blanket accreditation for all professions from the joining countries.

Only after 2005 will education officials start work with the schools to ensure that they meet the standards of the EU Architecture Directive.

The Bartlett's Susan Ware - the ARB's newly elected deputy-chair - said there had been serious concern when the policy was announced.

'There is sure to be some confusion about who qualifies as an architect, ' she warned. 'Many of the schools are more a combination of engineering and architecture than we are used to. But we have checked many of the schools and they have high standards. It will be complicated, but we hope this could be a positive experience.'

The RIBA said it is not overly concerned, and that the 'rich mix of the different schools could add to the diversity within architecture'.

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