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Extent of ARB education review unclear

ARB board members have squabbled over the extent of plans to review the routes to achieving architectural qualification in the UK

The plans, described as ‘a root and branch review’ in the ARB’s draft business plan, could lead the ARB to hike up its registration fee when the board meets again in September.

At last Thursday’s meeting, some board members said they were uncomfortable with the wording of the draft business plan, feeling a ‘root and branch review’ would be too comprehensive at a time when the ARB is due to go under periodic review itself by the government. Others felt that a major investigation into the routes to registration was a necessary step.

The scope of the review and its remit will be decided when the board meets in September, where it will also set its registration fee for architects for the coming year.

Beatrice Fraenkel, chair of the ARB board said: ‘The board is having to look at a range of options for the next three years about the priorities that we are going to be taking on in our business plan and then setting a budget. The final decisions will be taken in September, and that will have a relationship with the registration fee and the level it’s set.’

She added: ‘If the board did want to do [a comprehensive review] in the next 12 months it might not be financially possible without hiking up the registration fee, but we don’t know yet as nothing has been costed.’

Fraenkel also referred to other reports about the ARB’s possible review of the routes to registration, saying that no decisions had been made as to the extent or scope of review. However up for discussion are potential changes which could allow graduates in subjects other than architecture to do a part II. The shake-up could also pave they way for foreign-qualified architects to join the ARB register without achieving the three-part qualification of a UK.

She added: ‘The reports by [other media outlets] that I have seen online… if you took a whole set of different statements and put them together you could say that was what it looked like. But no decision was made, the conversation swung around the table and didn’t resolve itself in an outcome.’

The draft business report will be amended in time for the next board meeting in September.

Alison Carr, registrar and chief executive of the ARB described the board’s discussion as an ‘argument over words’ and said: ‘[The business plan] is just a first draft, it is a chance for the board to debate and have a think about what these things will look like. We will try to find some words that the board will be happy with for the next meeting.’

Another issue raised by one board member during the meeting brought up the possibility of the ARB asking universities to cover the costs of liaison visits, with 50 such visits expected in 2014.

Carr said: ‘We do liaison visits to universities at their request. We do sessions with students at all levels, covering things like the code of conduct, what it means to be an architect, that sort of thing.’

She added: ‘We have to be a little bit careful as we can’t charge for services. We have no power in the [Architects] Act to charge for services, and we would need a change in the Act to do so. But no doubt we will have another discussion about that in September.’

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