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Architecture closed to the poor, claims report

The architecture profession excludes those from low-income backgrounds, a report has found

According to an independent report on access to the professions, headed by former Cabinet minister Alan Milburn with input from the RIBA, the industry has a ‘closed-shop mentality’.

In the document, entitled Unleashing Aspirations, Milburn referred to a ‘first great wave of social mobility’ that took place in the late 1950s, and called on the professions to bring about a second wave.

Milburn said: ‘A typical professional born in 1958 came from a family that earned 17 per cent more than the average income… Tomorrow’s professional is growing up in a family that is better off than 7 out of 10 families in Britain.’

The report recommends keeping records of the socio-economic backgrounds of new entrants to the senior civil service – a pilot survey that could be pushed out to all professions.

Other proposed initiatives include fee-free higher education for students living at home and a £5,000 Lifelong Skill Account voucher for professionals in training.

Sunand Prasad, RIBA president and a panellist on the report, welcomed the findings, claiming there had previously been ‘a paucity of data for architecture about the economic background of people coming into the profession’.

Readers' comments (2)

  • The architecture course is an expensive one, so the student loan company would do well to consider giving architecture students more money than those of courses that don't cost as much. I think most of the cost comes from model making materials and printing, but also books need to be bought, there are often annual study tours and, a more powerful computer is probably required (compare, say, the running of a CAD or graphics program to a word processor, which is all most students of non-art&design courses will ever use)

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  • Is it not a sad reflection on the nature of the RIBA that they have to 'wait' for the Government to carry out a study? Surely if the RIBA were truly concerned about this matter why did they not carry out their own review? Or perhaps the debate over dropping Architect for Architecture was more pressing?

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