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In response to your article 'Student body slams ARB Parts 1 and 2 price hike' ( ajplus 14.11.06), several points need to be made.

This is the first time that the fee has been reviewed since the inception of the revised examination process 18 months ago.

The ARB takes great care to ensure that the cost of operating the examination is kept to a minimum, while at the same time ensuring that the examination system is robust, transparent and fit for purpose.

The examination fees which are applied cover the administration and staffing costs associated with printing, as well as appointing, training and remunerating examiners and independent examiners. The fees do not cover additional costs, such as handling enquiries from those who do not later apply to be examined.

The board's policy is that the costs associated with examinations should not be borne by the ARB's registrants.

Following an extensive review, the ARB's Prescription Committee recommended to the board that it should not alter its policy.

The board accepted this recommendation.

I should also point out that at a meeting held on 9 November this year, the board proposed to explore the possibility of outsourcing the examination process to the schools of architecture around the country, with a view to determining whether this could be a cheaper alternative for applicants.

Institutions offering the prescribed qualification will be consulted soon on their interest in this proposal and on whether alternative models can be developed.

Finally, I am puzzled by comments made in the article in relation to Polish candidates and to diversity. The ARB has no 'foreign policy' that mitigates against either Polish or any other EU candidates.

In such cases, the ARB is only able to register those who hold the appropriate qualifications listed under the EU directive. It is up to the individual EU states to determine what qualifications are entered and listed. If potential registrants do not hold those listed qualifications, the ARB is unable to register them.

Alan Crane, chairman, ARB Prescription Committee

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