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RIBA announces Part 1, 2 and 3 memberships in major shake-up

Graduates will soon be able to use new RIBA affixes after their name before qualification

Plans to modernise the RIBA’s membership structure have been approved by the institute’s council.

The changes, a result of the recent membership review, will see a graduate membership category introduced recognising academic achievement.

This category will distinguish between student members, students who have completed a Part 1 course, and those who have completed Part 2 and are enrolled on Part 3.

Part 1 students can use the affix ‘Student member of the RIBA’, while Part 2 students enrolled on a course can use the affix ‘Graduate member of the RIBA’

Students enrolled on a RIBA Part 3 course who are Part 1 and 2 qualified will be able to use a newly introduced ‘AssociateRIBA’ affix after their name.

Part III students will be able to use the AssociateRIBA affix


The changes also aim to acknowledge those who have studied architecture but pursued a career elsewhere, with a new affiliate membership class that will be open professionals from the wider construction and creative industries.

Alongside these changes, a new fellow membership class will recognise ‘architects at the height of their profession’ and will be judged on an individual architect’s merit and achievement.

The institution says the changes will ‘modernise the RIBA professional pathway’.

RIBA President Stephen Hodder said: ‘The RIBA is committed to providing membership that is valued, sustainable for the 21st century and above all stands for professional excellence and achievement. 

‘The upcoming changes to the membership offer will ensure that the RIBA encourages wider diversity, including EU & Internationally based architects, while not diminishing the high standards or status of RIBA chartered membership.

‘The changes have been developed following our recent membership review, the most comprehensive for in 25 years. These are important steps in providing an improved, streamlined membership offer that will deliver what our members have told us they want.’

RIBA Vice President, Membership Anthony Clerici said: 

‘Our exciting new programme for RIBA membership is the result of 18 months of extensive research and conversation with our members and the wider industry. The approval by the RIBA Council sets us on path to delivering a new and improved membership offer that reflects what our members want and need from a forward looking RIBA.’

The new membership categories

For those enrolled on a Part 1 RIBA validated course, or successfully completed Part1 within past 2 years. Will be able to use the label: ‘Student member of the RIBA’.

For those enrolled on a Part 2 RIBA validated course or completed Part 1 RIBA validated course and doing PEDR. Will be able to use the label: ‘Graduate member of the RIBA’.

For RIBA members who are Parts 1 and 2 qualified and enrolled on a Part 3 RIBA validated course or doing PEDR; or EU directive recognised qualified. Will be able to use new ‘AssociateRIBA’ affix.

For RIBA members who are Parts 1,2 and 3 qualified; or EU directive recognised plus Part 3; or EU directive recognised plus 5 years’ experience (including 2 years PEDR & MEAP); or full MEAP assessment  for international qualification and experience. These members will continue to use the ‘RIBA’ affix.  

This membership category is for architects who have been chartered RIBA members for 5 years or more with assessed evidence of distinguished achievement in architecture. Will be able to use new affix: ‘FRIBA’.

For members who are Part 1 or 2 qualified pursuing a career outside of the practice of architecture; or qualified co-professional working within the built environment, or non-architect qualified academics teaching in validated school of architecture. Can use the label: ‘Affiliate of the RIBA’.

The changes will be discussed further at the December RIBA council and it has not yet been confirmed when these new membership categories will come into play.        

Readers' comments (13)

  • The affixes are too long winded!

    I've just tweeted these quotes @RIBAJ here a moment ago:-

    ...'AssociateRIBA' is pretty long winded for an Affix. 'RIBAA' would be much better for me until fully chartered!

    ...alternatively 'ARIBA' would conflict in Scotland, where fully chartered RIAS members are in fact also Associates affixed as 'ARIAS'

    ps how about the following suggestions too:-

    ...Part 1 students would be better as ‘sRIBA’
    ...Part 2 students would be better as ‘gRIBA’

    Associates need capital letters, ergo my earlier suggestion of RIBAA

    Fellows okay as traditionally FRIBA

    I've one question though that I've emailed Anthony today as follows:-

    "...will Associates - not Part 3 enrolled yet due to unemployment; or no current patronage - have to temporarily withdraw from the membersip class until otherwise?..."

    ps If Anthony or any other RIBA colleague is subscribed to this thread, perhaps they can comment here too, as I may not be alone in the UK (or am I?)

    I know a quick tel call to RIBA will probably suffice shortly, but it would be good to discuss such things on here too, in an open forum situation, so that many can see and comment. The decisions on affixing can’t be easy. The endeavour is to be commended including the survey work beforehand.

    Pps I recall writing in the survey that I was happy to continue to have no affix until chartered. Again, , I’d easily use RIBAA as an affix, but not ‘AssociateRIBA’. The latter is saying ‘something is wrong’ or ‘this is not a qualification as such’.

    Put simply: I want letters not words!

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  • Paul McGrath


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  • Ps: And a 2nd question if I may.

    Does this relaxation/compromise on ‘affix use’ also mean that I - and other Associates as RIBA labels us - will finally be able to use BArch DipArch (or other equivalent combination of architectural qualifications) after our names too?

    To my mind, although I don’t know how others feel, there’s no point being able to use an affix without being able to reveal what qualifications that affix pertains to.

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  • Pps: Ultimately (as compromises) none of this is great, for Associates, if being held back from being able to become or call oneself an architect, especially in times like these when or if you’re made redundant in the interim...

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  • ridiculous, and just so I'm not misinterpreted, I'm an architect but not a member of RIBA. The headline suggested something more substantial was going to happen like making the course 2 years shorter, this just shows how pointless and out of touch RIBA is. The only reason to be a member of RIBA is that most of the public have heard of it, but haven't heard of ARB. I once didn't get an interview for a job at an interior design firm because I wasn't a member of RIBA. I couldn't afford to be (still can't)!

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  • I have concerns about the use of an affix AssociateRIBA by students who have reached Part 3 stage. Not that they should not have recognition and encouragement but that the use of an affix AssociateRIBA will create uncertainty with the public and be abbreviated to ARIBA which will cause problems and very difficult to monitor. However Council agreed to what it was said was a change supported by members in the membership survey but that depended on the question was phrased and whether members in giving their reply and thought through the implications. However Council has agreed to he use of that as an affix and we should accept that but keep the situation under review. Owen Luder PPRIBA

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  • i.e. as I can't call myself an architect in my own right. This is deplorable and scandalous after obtaining/devoting more credence than most qualifying architects.

    The profession surely can't leave people like me out on a limb at such a critical stage in one’s career, having post-graduated in 2000 with 3 years' ug & 8 years' pg practical experience so far.

    Many 100s of you as businesses have my CV. Please give me a call please, or risk the profession more than falling as it stumbles to determine its [still] rogue qualifications agenda

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  • 'Does this relaxation/compromise on ‘affix use’ also mean that I - and other Associates as RIBA labels us - will finally be able to use BArch DipArch (or other equivalent combination of architectural qualifications) after our names too?'

    Kevin there is currently nothing to stop you using BA, BArch, DipArch or the affix of whatever degree/qualifcation you possess. Whether you use them or not has nothing to do with the RIBA.

    'I’d easily use RIBAA as an affix, but not ‘AssociateRIBA’. The latter is saying ‘something is wrong’ or ‘this is not a qualification as such’.'

    Well yes AssociateRIBA does say that and rightly so. RIBAA would be too similar to RIBA and would make it easier for unqualified persons to create the impression that they were in fact fully qualified architects causing confusion with the general public.

    Also the affix 'RIBA' despite what some people might assume is in no way a qualification it is a professional body you can join if eligible.

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  • David, since joining RIBA a few years ago, I've limited my use of affixes in case I give the impression that I'm an architect before registering as one. This was after reading [perhaps] a by-law or the likes - long ago - that qualification affixes must also not be used in conjunction with not using the affix of the professional body. I’m sure it was RIBA Bylaws if I remember correctly. I agree with this though.

    As I said earlier in my individual response to the survey, I’m happy to remain letter-less until registration to prevent giving the impression to the public that I’m otherwise registered. Simply because affixing whatever non-chartered category will confuse the public even more! That aforesaid bylaw that I read was nothing short of spot on. And, I hope it’s still there in b&w.

    As for a potential RIBAA affix for RIBA Associates, well why not? If anything, a simple ‘RIBA’ affix will then become the veritable downgrade from the compliment of being potentially RIBAA for the longest time possible. However, personally I want to upgrade to RIBA rather than downgrade onto it from potentially RIBAA, because as I said: 1) the public need to confide without confusion and doubt on strong, and as streamlined as possible, affixes rather than a weak multitude; and 2) because I’m not seeking the self esteem that ‘BArch DipArch RIBAA’ would bring me when having to introduce myself in public from symposiums to the jobcentre and everything in-between. I also argue that other Associates should likewise refrain, let alone especially the student, graduate, fellow, and affiliate members being proposed to have affixes.

    Introducing RIBAA; sRIBA; gRIBA; FRIBA; affRIBA; or whatever in addition to simply RIBA is going to take immense public education, outreach and publicity, which I doubt we have resourced for. Let’s stick with the wisdom of the old Byelaws: ‘No affix until chartered’.

    [Ps A couple of days ago - nothing new this - I was tabled as an Architect at a stone course for architects engineers etc. I didn’t say I was one; I used the word architecture for my discipline/designation. I’m most often called one than asked if I’m one, but I don’t necessarily like it because of the current public confusion over qualification. I’m also not surprised that there’s this confusion, even without a proliferation of affixes! ]

    You learn something new every day!

    I got a reply, and Owen’s suggestion above looks likely as there’s a number of stages before any such proposition can take effect. We’re looking at somewhere during 2015 or ’16 for this "shake-up" to materialise.

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  • [pps there's an option that one can call oneself a 'trainee' architect publicly, but It sounds so wrong for someone of my credence. Therefore maybe a 'RIBAA' affix for Associates should indeed be considered as an advanced late form of [developed trainee] architect, dependent on the number of post-grad years of recorded experience. The whole fiasco has hitherto made my CV too full of description because there's no such affix/description as yet - architect candidates have got to make up their own - long-winded - explanations.]

    Truth (& change) will out!

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  • Richard Timmins

    As a student currently in the final year of my masters, I am very happy to have be able to use a label with RIBA in it. Many of the younger generations are networking outside of the profession and currently have no official title, therefore having to explain the awkward situation of being able to offer no official certification of being attached to the RIBA.

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  • Kevin, to my understanding Trainee Architect would be incorrect, just as Student Architect etc. would be. They suggests a title which includes "Architect" which is against the law. Instead "training to become an Architect" would probably be preferable and more acceptable.

    The whole debate on using RIBA after your name is a little strange as whilst they might cause some confusion to the general public there is a much bigger problem there... we need to educate the public (and most undergraduate students) the different between someone who is an Architect and someone who is not - then you just need to use the title Architect and the whole debate about RIBA etc. after your name becomes less significant. (... Just how many of us question or even look at our Doctor's credentials?)

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  • Anon Anon, Would you consider a 'Conservation Architect' who is not registered with ARB, but fully RIBA chartered &/or RIBA conservation accredited to be part of that gamut of 'this architect and that architect'.

    I feel your pain in spite of my last 2 permanent jobs entitled as ‘Trainee Architect’ in ’88; and the same 20 years later.

    I was also brought up in the earlier mould of ‘Assistant Architect’ back in the 1980s as a teen. A little self esteem perhaps, but was quite happy to succumb to the rise/shift to the words ‘Architectural Assistant’ instead, which I’ve predominantly used on my CV for the last 2 decades.

    Ironically, the much tougher regimes in the US would have been calling me an Architect long ago. The UK system is quite belittling for those you have been blacklisted indefinitely as an ‘architectural assistant’ supposedly en-route to their Part 3 and registration.

    If you’ve had the patronage towards registration, which I suspect most ‘architectural assistants’ have within their first few years, I bet you & the others were agitated by having to gain merely the 1 year of post pg practical experience rather than [like me] the 1, 2 or more decade/s that I’ll have to endure, sorry enjoy.

    I enjoy what I do, so I don’t complain about it. I’m okay without self esteem and I don’t even mind if I end up setting a world record without it, but what I do mind is some other aloof person reminding me that I’m a ‘ural assistant, no more and no less.

    You tell me Anon Anon: What would be less than the ‘Architecturinal Assistant’ that I can’t retreat from, without breaking the law about it?

    I think I know who’s really been breaking the law, and it might very well be the profession that you and many 1000s of others wish to remain unchanged in any way. Well, that’s the impression I’m getting from your reply.

    Like you, I would like the seeming elitism to remain, but not while I’m unemployed jobseeking for too long: try ‘a half decade’s worth’ as of in 1.5 hours time. Yes, you heard right, 5 years long term unemployed, not counting a 1 week spell as a ‘ural assistant approximately 2 years ago.

    Maybe I’ll have some champagne tomorrow to celebrate my spell as the longest serving emeritus architcturinal assistant in the UK.

    I say play fair and let me at least be an ‘assistant’ if I’m not to be an ‘architect’, rather than have me uttering all this nonsense that brings the profession into disrepute. Don’t wait for business confidence to return, let me swap desks please with someone. I’ve been the pauper for long enough thank you very much, and it’s someone else’s turn now. Knowing my luck, I’ll have to wait another half decade or more. Yes, I’ll have been made redundant - 5 year’s ago - in 1 hour and a quarter hours from now.

    Apologies for going off on a tangent!

    [Ps If I’m lucky enough to get an assistant or technician job tomorrow, I could say that I was out of work for [not around] a half decade or 5 years but for 5 on the dot. I’ll give you 5 million to 1 for those odds!]

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