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No magic wand: ARB ‘constrained' over architecture education woes

ARB board member John Assael has admitted the organisation is limited in what it can do to solve the problems with architectural education

The Assael Architecture boss praised the AJ-supported campaign to reform the education system but said there remained widespread ‘confusion’ over what the ARB could do to help.

‘We need to explain what ARB do and how constrained we are,’ said Assael at a board meeting yesterday as he spelled out how the organisation’s freedom to reform education was limited by the Architects Act and European Professional Qualifications Directive, which is currently under review.

The AJ is promoting itself as a forum to raise awareness of a pan-industry campaign to reform architectural education. The debate, on AJ’s LinkedIn forum, has focussed on flexible routes to qualification and closer links between schools and the industry.

The European Professional Qualifications Directive is currently being revised to create a new level playing field for the registration of architects across Europe.

With the directive’s final version set to be published next year, debate is currently raging over the minimum length of architectural education and whether or not training should be an absolute requirement for qualification.

ARB registrar Alison Carr said: ‘The main response ARB has made [to the consultation] is about the importance of flexibility. If the directive seeks to bring in more restrictions that could be potentially damaging.’

Board member Alex Wright, who is head of architecture at the University of Bath, said the board could recommend examinations applicable in the UK only which would be free from any potential European restrictions.

Such examinations, it is understood, could allow the ARB to create new and more flexible routes to joining the register. The examination would not however count as a qualification recognised under the European Professional Qualifications Directive and would not allow its holder to be automatically recognised as an architect in Europe.

ARB head of qualifications Emma Matthews confirmed the issue was open to review.

The average length of time taken from starting architectural education to qualifying in the UK is nine and a half years in the UK, claimed Wright. In comparison, in certain European Union member states it is possible to qualify, without experience, with four years education only.


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