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Anger at funding cut plans for architecture courses in Scotland

Scottish architects have reacted angrily to plans that would cut funding for architecture students by 22 per cent

Many see the proposals, from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), as an attack on the industry.

‘It’s appalling and ill considered, and we condemn it in the strongest terms,’ said Neil Baxter, secretary and treasurer at the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. ‘We have been talking to the heads of schools about it and will be responding.’

The consultation outlines that funding would be allocated depending on which band courses have been placed in. Architecture has been classified in the lowest band D, along with media studies and modern languages, giving the course £5,000 a year per student.

Gordon Murray, professor in Architecture and Urban Design at The University of Strathclyde and chair of the Association of Scottish Schools of Architecture, said the SFC has failed to recognise that architecture is a studio-based curriculum that requires greater funding. ‘The inclusion of architecture in the proposed band D, a 22 per cent drop in the funding per FTE, is unjustifiable as we believe it is not possible to offer a validated course based on current QAA/ARB/RIBA benchmark criteria given the defined nature of architecture as a studio based curriculum.’

The SFC is taking responses to its consultation until 4 December. If approved, it would come into force in 2011/12.


Scottish Funding Council’s response:

We are consulting a new set of subject price groups in our teaching funding formula. These prices are at a sector level and are used to create block teaching grants for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). It is up to a HEI to decide how it distributes its block grant amongst its departments and it does not have to follow our prices.

The subject price groups and associated prices in our consultation were arrived at by analysing information that HEIs provided on what they spent in different subject areas (the transparent approach to costing for teaching (TRAC(T)) return). We concluded that the sector-wide pattern of spend did support our existing system of 23 prices and have proposed a simpler system of four prices.

When we mapped our current system of 23 subject prices to our proposed new system of four there were some significant changes. However, the pattern of our proposed prices is what was suggested by our interpretation of the evidence on patterns of spend provided by the HEIs.

If we are to go ahead with any changes they must be on a sound basis and there are questions in our consultation which specifically ask for views on the robustness of the evidence we have received and our interpretation of it.

Readers' comments (8)

  • So why don't you kick us when we're down? Oh, you have. The cost in books, materials and educational travel to the student of architecture has historically never been properly recognised by Funding Councils. To cut a further 22% is insane.

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  • I'm not studying in Scotland, but I think it is unfair that Architecture students have to pay for all their printing and materials, which are a necessity in order to do well on the course. Science students don't have to pay for their chemicals, so why should we have to pay for our incredibly expensive presentation sheets? Especially as we have 5 years of it!

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  • How can architecture be considered to be such a cheap course? I cannot think of any course that costs more. On top of buying books, which other courses have to do, architecture students must pay for printing - which can be for reviews as often as every fortnight - model making materials and compare the cost of a computer and software needed to write an essay (which is what most courses' work consists of) compared to a computer that has to cope with sketchup, autocad, photoshop and 3d studio when creating an architecture student's submitted work.

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  • Having said that, the book that architects buy tend to be coffee table books; presentation boards tend to be over good mate used to present on trace roles (now a top director)

    Whilst I have some sympathy, I can actually see why this has happened.

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  • dont we have enough scottish architects in the uk ?

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  • Myself and some collegues at the Strathclyde School of Architecture are currently rallying students in Scotland to unite against this proposal.

    All those who are interested in joining our cause please join the facebook page (search for Scottish Students of Architecture) or e-mail

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    Architecture as a creative art needs to be shifted into its correct place, with courses of other creative arts and engineering who currently receive more money than us.

    To add to this concern – the Scottish Funding Council proposal would clearly distance ourselves further from the rest of the UK where we currently receive 10% less funding per student for architecture.

    * In England Band C Grant of £3,898 plus the top-up fee of £3,300 = £7,198.
    * In Scotland we get a grant of £4,783 plus tuition fee of £1,777 = £6,560.

    The SFC reduction proposal would leave us 30% less funding per student than in England and Wales.

    This would impact on our ability to sit at the top table in architecture internationally, as it is unlikely our architecture schools can keep the same quality of teaching and delivery they currently achieve.

    With this backdrop the funding crisis concerns us greatly – the future of Architectural education in Scotland looks set to be decimated. When looking to Scotland enormous talent and potential in the field of architecture and creative industries it is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

    Those of you who feel as strongly as us, we urge you to please get in touch (, ( or ( or through the facebook page (search for Scottish Students of Architecture). If we form a group against this move we can shout with a stronger voice nationally – as we’re sure you will agree, this should unite the architectural community across our six schools.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Myself and some collegues at the Strathclyde School of Architecture are currently rallying students in Scotland to unite against this proposal.

    All those who are interested in joining our cause please join the facebook page (search for Scottish Students of Architecture) or e-mail

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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