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The education revolution begins

The heads of schools alliance SCHOSA is on the verge of launching the biggest revolution in architectural education for a generation.

The organisation has called for wholesale change to the way that schools of architecture are prescribed and validated, and the way that students qualify as architects.

The Delft Declaration, which was made on Monday, effectively demands the abandonment of the established Parts 1/2/3 and year-out structure, and its replacement with a more fluid system that allows for educational freedom. It calls for 'professional competence' to be 'established at a single point of architectural registration with no prescribed intermediate qualifications'.

If the RIBA, the ARB, the government and the universities themselves adopt the reforms, the new system will allow for students to take any combination of practice-based training and university courses.

The students would take just one set of exams to prove professional competence at any stage in their development instead of automatically waiting for seven years.

SCHOSA secretary Chris Cross said that the decision to push for such a thorough overhaul was triggered by the top-up fees set to be introduced by the government and the ongoing shortage of resources felt in most schools.

'The proposal is that there should just be one bottom line for qualification resulting in any number of diverse routes, ' he told the AJ. 'For example, in the US it is encouraged that students should do a diverse undergraduate course and then do an extended MA course afterwards.

'The Delft Declaration is about creating a culture where there could be any number of flexible routes to qualification, ' he added. 'Some people might go through a system of office-based learning while others might stay at school.'

Critics have, however, warned that there are countless problems with SCHOSA's proposed 'one point of entry' system.

'What they seem to be suggesting is one super exam at the end of seven years, ' RIBA vice-president for education Jack Pringle said. 'That would be massively demanding. Not even the Americans suggest anything as stressful as that.

'While I admit that the present system is far from perfect, this seems a little radical. A modular system would be a lot better than the one exam.

It seems to me that they are trying to get to something a lot of academics want - a non-vocational Part 1.

'I look forward to meeting with SCHOSA and finding out what their motivations for the declaration really are, ' he added.

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