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RIBA votes for 'strong action' to tackle student problems and low pay

The RIBA has today (24 June) voted to back ‘a suite of proposals’ to support architecture students and young practitioners during the recession

The institute, which has come in for criticism for not doing enough to tackle the issues facing the next generation of architects, has pledged to pump cash into its student hardship fund, bring in ‘rigorous minimum pay requirements for all students’ through changes to its RIBA Chartered Practice employment criteria and battle to stop the exploitation of interns.

The measures which will be implemented immediately, include:

  • Investment of an additional £75,000 into the RIBA student hardship fund for 2010 and 2011: This cash injection treble the funds available and help ‘at least’ another 100 students facing severe financial difficulties to continue and complete their professional education. It will also be available to recent graduates to build suitable portfolios to present to potential employers. The money is in addition to the £106,000 already committed by the RIBA to the scholarship and bursary programme.
  • Improvement of pay and employment conditions: A review group representing the most adversely affected groups: small practices, the student body ARCHAOS, and APSAA will develop changes to the RIBA Chartered Practice employment criteria and RIBA Code of Professional Conduct (see AJ 16.09.10), particularly with regards to rigorous minimum pay requirements for all students and professionally qualified employees, to come into effect from 2011. 
  • Internships: Campaigning to remove exemption from paying minimum wage for practical training requirements over 6 months; therefore working to ensure PEDR experience is not classed as an internship.
  • Research into alternative careers: Over half of all students doing Part 1 and 2 validated architecture courses do not become registered architects. In partnership with SCHOSA and the University of Sheffield, the RIBA will be conducting research into destinations for those leaving architecture before completing their professional training, and reviewing courses in architecture to improve employability and the economy.

Ruth Reed, RIBA President, said: ‘The economic crisis is affecting us all but students and recent graduates are least able to diversify and stay on the professional path. Faced with the prospects of a profession with high underemployment and redundancy, some talented individuals, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, may decide they can’t afford to stay in the profession.

‘Most chartered practices are responsible and pay fairly for fee earning work, but through my experience in teaching, I am well aware that there are those who accept students’ offers to work for free. The RIBA believes that the entire architecture profession should be supported, valued and paid fairly, and through the measures announced today, we will be working to further guard against unacceptable employment practises, including low pay.

‘Strong action is urgently needed and I believe these measures will make a difference to people’s lives today.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • Excellent news. However, what are the RIBA planning to do to help architecture students in Scotland who are facing cuts of up to 22%?

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  • I Graduated last year and decided to volunteer in order to prgress in my studies, and I ended up working as a secretary. It made me question if it is worth it. The recession seems to be turning architecture in to a vile profession.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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