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Vote now: Candidates vying for RIBA student representative role revealed

RIBA student members have less than two weeks to choose from four candidates standing to represent them at council

The victorious contender will take a student seat on the 60-strong RIBA Council for one year from 1 September.

The hopefuls are Rory Keenan of Queens University Belfast, Nathan James Humfryes of the Welsh School of Architecture, Emily Fribbance of the Manchester School of Architecture and Sophie Betermann from the University of Westminster.

Keenan has called for a ‘name-and-shame’ policy against ‘rogue firms’ who ‘hire, overwork and fire students for little or no compensation’.

Fribbance has claimed students lack confidence because of poor communication links between with the RIBA. In her election statement she spoke out against architecture becoming ‘solely an elitist vocation’.

She said: ‘If we are not careful we could find ourselves breeding a society of money obsessed architects due to the cost of education overwhelming our core objectives.’

Nathan James Humfryes has pledged to encourage universities to offer ‘more dynamic ways to learn’ and ensure students are ‘heard and encouraged’. ‘Now is a time to question the profession we face and embrace its new challenges with renewed energy and optimism,’ he said.

Part II student Sophie Determann said she was most concerned about ‘fairness and accessibility’ in architectural education. She has pledged to boost RIBA’s practical advice and help better promote ‘existing services and cultural programmes’ to students.

Candidates standing for election must be nominated by either a student architectural society or seven current RIBA student members. The student member seats are currently held by Alex Bancroft and Charles Fisher.

Part I and part II architecture students are automatically entitled to free RIBA student membership and allowed to vote in the postal ballot for their representative.

The election closes on 24 July.


RIBA student representative: the contenders


Rory Keenan – nominated by The Architecture Society of Queens University Belfast

Candidate for RIBA student representative: Rory Keenan

Candidate for RIBA student representative: Rory Keenan


The question on everyone’s mind these days is ‘Is architecture really a worthwhile career path?’ The answer will depend upon three critical challenges facing architecture students in the coming years:

1. RIBA has failed to protect the ‘unpaid intern’. What we need is a name-and-shame approach to firms who hire, overwork and fire students for little or no compensation. PEDR sheets where employers sign beside student’s work and payment received would be a simple strategy to put pressure on rogue firms.

2. Many students are getting into a profession that may be radically different by the time they finish. The split between ‘conceptual’ and ‘technical’ architects is greater than ever. Here the problem is the lack of information, most students aren’t aware of RIBA’s ‘Building Futures’ reports. Greater promotion and research is required if students are to understand the challenges facing them.

3. Students and practitioners are now working in an increasing mobile and even international way. RIBA has been slow to adjust to these changes and indeed nearly all its activities are located in, or close to, London. I want more events and CPD for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, along with greater online resources for students and architects working abroad. Each RIBA lecture should be recorded and uploaded online to a video library. There should also be more travel bursaries and existing funds should be used for smaller, but more numerous, bursaries.

My name is Rory Keenan, I studied in Belfast, Northern Ireland where I was class representative for 3 years and an active member and treasurer of my Architecture Society. I’m a DO person and I have plenty of experience in this kind of role. I genuinely feel that with small yet effective changes a degree in architecture a worthwhile career path.


Nathan James Humfryes nominated by the Student Association of the Welsh School of Architecture

Candidate for RIBA student representative: Nathaniel James Humfryes

Candidate for RIBA student representative: Nathaniel James Humfryes

It has never been a more exciting time to be an architecture student.

Despite recent rises in tuition fees, low pay and a fragile job market, we have proved that we are capable of confronting and adapting to these times, showing resilience and aspirations to succeed in many different ways. We have seen a surge of political and social ambition present in our graduate work, encompassing new and alternative approaches to architecture and we have thrived in a wide range of professional disciplines.

I believe that the RIBA can help support a positive approach to these difficult times. We have already seen the introduction of hardships funds, increased bursaries and the ‘host practice’ schemes, but it is critical that the

RIBA continue to strive for excellence and adaptability in our professional developments.

As a student on Cardiff University’s ‘education in practice’ year, a former society president and a student representative I have experience working with practices, my local RIBA and my university to drive for more open opportunities for students in gaining vital professional growth. It is my ambition to use this knowledge at the RIBA for nationwide value and to provide better access to its many resources. I will be influencing universities into offering more dynamic ways to learn, practices to ensure fair and valuable experience is given and most importantly the RIBA into ensuring that these opportunities continue to grow.

It is my ambition to act as a dedicated voice for students. I will ensure that our students are heard and encouraged; be it in ensuring better links between education and practice; supporting students seeking experience or just ensuring that the right issues are dealt with in the right way. Now is a time to question the profession we face and embrace its new challenges with renewed energy and optimism.


Emily Fribbance nominated by the Manchester Student Society of Architecture

Candidate for RIBA student representative: Emily Fribbance

Candidate for RIBA student representative: Emily Fribbance

Conversations about our future architectural careers are becoming somewhat awkward; few outside the profession understand the reasons why we are investing so much in our education when the economic rewards are so unattractively disproportionate. It is hardly surprising as the current climate manifests major disincentives with evident nationwide struggles to find graduate jobs.

Despite this state of uncertainty, we students are optimistically continuing with our hopes for the future. To be fore-armed in this battle however, we need to be fore-warned. Communications between the RIBA and students are still not clear enough to give students the required confidence in what we are doing. As a course representative and familiar face amongst our school, I am consistently fired with questions, which require informed answers.

Information from the highest respected body of our profession should be made widely and readily available to both students and practising members of the profession alike.

This year, statistics have shown applications to study architecture have fallen by 40per cent at some schools. A decline was inevitable with the hiking of fees to £9000 and now a strong response to these circumstances must be implemented. Attending the RIBA ‘Tough Times’ student forum last year provoked me to get involved in addressing student concerns at our school. Now I would like to take these voices nationwide and to the highest decision makers through the council. We must not allow architecture to become solely an elitist vocation. Action needs to be taken to ensure the quality of education meets its price, whilst continuing to provide support for talented individuals from low-income backgrounds.

It’s rather disappointing that for the vast majority of architecture students today, their main concern has to be finance. In my opinion we should be concerning ourselves with the issues of design and how to help improve people’s lives. If we are not careful we could find ourselves breeding a society of money obsessed architects due to the cost of education overwhelming our core objectives. Is it too late to re-define the value of our profession?

This position of a seat on the RIBA council requires a lively individual willing to spend the time engaging with and representing the voices of the students. I think I am the ideal candidate for this role.


Sophie Determann – nominated by University of Westminster Student Society

Candidate for RIBA student representative: Sophie Determann

Candidate for RIBA student representative: Sophie Determann

I am a Part II Student currently studying at the University of Westminster.

At this early stage in my architectural career I am becoming increasingly conscious of the issues and decisions that face the profession at present, and indeed the effect that they will have on today’s young practitioners for years to come.

I am very keen to sit on the RIBA Council as the most effective forum for discussion and decisions. Naturally, my foremost concerns are for fairness and accessibility in architectural education and PEDR monitoring, and for greater diversity and opportunity in ongoing practical experience. I would like to encourage the personal support that the RIBA offers to my generation in terms of its practical advice and also to support improvements in promotion of existing services and cultural programmes to young architects across the country.

With understanding of architectural practice in both the UK and Germany as well as continuous involvement in student representation and media throughout my undergraduate studies at the University of Liverpool, I am positive that I have the right experience and appropriately-placed interests to contribute effectively to the RIBA Council on behalf of my peers.



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