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. . . as figures reveal alarming decline in membership . . .

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RIBA membership has been dropping off in a number of key areas and will be investigated 'as a matter of urgency', said new vicepresident for membership Peter Trebilcock (left).

The latest figures show student membership has fallen by 29 per cent in the past year.Much of this is to do with a procedural change, but 8 per cent is still unaccounted for.And the number of people in the subscriber class has dropped by 14 per cent over the same period. 'The reason for this is not clear and will be investigated, ' Trebilcock said.

Membership stands at 32,212, compared with 33,692 a year ago, representing a fall of 4 per cent.

Nonetheless, the decline in numbers was not enough to prevent council from voting through a rise in the annual subscription rate. The rise will be in the range of 2-5.5 per cent and will be announced later in the year.

Rod Hackney was adamant that a rise of 5.5 per cent would require 'careful selling to the membership', while former RIBA chief executive Alex Reid (right) was even more cautious and proposed sticking to a 'hairshirt' rise of 2 per cent. 'This could imply some specific cuts in activity, but council might want to have that option available to them, ' he said.

David Thorpe, however, urged council members to stop 'fiddling around at the edges' and proposed raising the annual fee to £1,000, tied to an ambitious programme of institute activities and membership enhancement - possibly including private indemnity insurance. Hyett called the suggestion a 'very uncomfortable' proposition.

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