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MPs vote to treble tuition fees

The coalition government has voted to raise tuition fees in England to up to £9,000 per year

The controverisal plans were narrowly approved by MP as violent protests took place in Westminster.

It is understood three ministerial aides resigned over the issue as the fee rise was passed by 323 to 302 votes.

According to the BBC, Scotland Yard says six police officers were hurt in clashes between police and students putside the houses of Parliament.

Speaking about the decision, Jeremy Till, dean of architecture and the built environment at the University of Westminster, said: ‘The fees vote marks a tragic day for this country, not just because it will inevitably restrict access to higher education and potentially threaten architecture and other humanities courses round the country, but also as the harbinger for throwing education over to the vagaries and distortions of the marketplace, thereby instantly destabilising what has been built up over years.’

Previous story (15.10.10)

Schools slam higher tuition fees

Architecture schools have hit out at a report saying the government should allow universities to charge more than £12,000 a year for tuition

The Browne Review into higher education finances, published this week (12 October), sets out plans to create a free market in tuition fees.

Heads of architecture schools this week slammed the proposal, which comes just a week ahead of huge expected cuts to university funding in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Robert Mull, head of architecture at London Metropolitan University, said: ‘Architecture courses are longer at undergraduate level than other courses, so the effect of higher fees on schools will be greater.

‘Students who come from a background with a fear of debt will be discouraged.’

Under former BP chief John Browne’s proposals, students will still have their fees paid upfront by the government, only repaying the money once they earn more than £21,000, compared to the current £15,000 barrier. The report says only the wealthiest 40 per cent would repay everything.

Jeremy Till, dean of architecture and the built environment at the University of Westminster, predicts some universities will clamour to charge very high fees while others will maintain lower rates. ‘It will create a two-tier university structure, which is strange because architecture is not a two-tier system,’ he said.

‘We have to be allowed more flexible routes to architectural education, and to do that the RIBA has to be more flexible and [relinquish] its Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 stranglehold.’

Though the report covers England and Wales it could set a precedent for changes in Scotland. Gordon Murray, head of architecture at the University of Strathclyde, said: ‘Architecture schools are long used to being inventive – an attribute inherent in the creative process – but further reductions in funding will require a more flexible approach.

‘The removal of the cap will certainly lead to greater variety of courses on offer, as some schools choose this mechanism to increase funding possibilities and others may seek to tighten up on current offerings.’

The government expects to move quickly on the recommendations, with another announcement due in the coming weeks.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Perhaps if fees went up then architecture schools would realise that a 7-year art course is just excessive & unnecessary................ teach us the tools of the trade for a year (Cad, drafting, 3D design), teach us about the industry in practice for a year (law, practice management) and then a couple of years design (studio projects as in existing diploma). That way we would all come out after four years with a well rounded education which gears us for the profession; there would always then be opportunity to return to the schools after that for more academic education. Three years undergrad & two years post grad to only come out with the ability to submit an awesome architectural competition entry is just crazy- teach us how to be an architect, how to design and manage real construction projects!

    N

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  • I completely agree the current training is ridiculous but then I am bitter and twisted as I have just been failed on my part 2 as I couldn't produce an 'awesome architectural competition entry' despite the fact that I have been taking the course part-time as a mature student whilst successfully working in practice for the last 3 years. Real experience counts for nothing it seems so long as architecture schools can charge fees for courses that teach us very little of any real use.

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  • John Kellett

    It all depends on what is required of an architectural education. To spend a year on 'tools of the trade', a year on 'Law and Practice Management' and two years 'design studio' would appear to omit: History, aesthetics, surveying, conservation, structures, sustainability, project management, cost estimating, environmental services, construction methods, brief-taking and development etc.
    The current RIBA curriculum is, in my opinion, a minimum to be achieved not an excessive requirement.
    I've witnessed 'Part Ones' with First Class Honours degrees who have been unable to read drawings correctly!
    Architecture as a profession is becoming more complex to embrace holistically, to cut course lengths would be seriously misguided. A greater concentration on the important issues and greater efficiency in the educational process would be useful.
    Besides, with the profession in the state it's in, it will be years before any graduate is in a job, let alone earning over £21,000!

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  • ‘Students who come from a background with a fear of debt will be discouraged.’ Oh! Poor people you mean Bob! Come on, just say it!
    This is yet another Tory idea to separate us all in to our relevant classes.. we are out of hand us poor people that have struggled to get where we are.
    I can see the system of Harvard or Princeton being adopted by our current universities were only the paid elite apply.. keep the ruffians out eh?

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  • "Scotland Yard says six police officers were hurt in clashes between police and students putside the houses of Parliament" - any mention of the 50+ injured protestors including the twenty year old undergoing the brain op after being battoned while attempting to leave the Kettle?

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