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Rock denies institute will hand over validation to ARB

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riba president David Rock has quashed rumours that the institute is to pull out of its long-standing involvement in school validation in favour of leaving it for the arb to fulfil in-house.

The moves, which one observer said hinged on the costs of sending riba representatives around the world, are being discussed in meetings between arb chief Andrew Finch, riba director general Alex Reid, and the institute's new education director Leonie Milliner, although consultation on changes to the education set-up is to go on long into October.

But Rock said any plans of the riba pulling out were simply 'Chinese whispers that are wrong'. They could, he said, have arisen from the proposal to replace the secretary of the riba/arb joint validation panel, Gillian Green, with a new post based at the arb for the first time. Currently the arb pays half the costs of validation to the riba, but the proposal would have meant a transaction the other way around and it would have subtly shifted the relationship. But Rock said: 'I've moved in and the person will be staying at the riba for very good pragmatic reasons - we know most about education.'

The symbolic move comes against a background of consultation after the arb was advised that existing arrangements on validation and assessment were not lawful. In a letter to consultees Andrew Finch said this is because the arb, as a statutory body, cannot delegate power, nor can its decisions be 'fettered by arrangements with any other body.' So earlier this month the arb drafted new memoranda - agreed by the riba - with the objectives of 'removing any hint of delegation of power or limitation of the arb's responsibilities'; recognising the Nolan principles; avoiding prescribing administrative detail on operational matters; and not excluding future collaboration with other interested parties.'

Consultations on the memoranda are being made until 15 October. Rock said no changes to the validation arrangements would come in until the end of 1999 or until the end of the Stansfield Smith review at the end of September 1999.

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