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. . . but will implement 'fairer' new-applicants fee system

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The ARB is to woo newly qualified architects by offering more flexible terms for registration.

The move to charge fees to new applicants on a pro rata basis follows a dip in the number of applicants in the last quarter of 2000.

The regulator saw almost 10 per cent fewer applications at the end of last year than in 1999 and board members think that rules stating the £55 annual registration fee must be paid even if membership is taken for just a fraction of the year are deterring young architects from registering as soon as they are qualified.

The change was agreed at the ARB's first ever open board meeting at the end of last month and will cost the regulator an estimated £12,000 a year - which was described by chief executive Robin Vaughan as 'very slight'.

In November 25-year-old architect Ray Holden brought the problem into the spotlight when he fired off an angry letter to Vaughan after the newly qualified architect paid £55 for just six weeks registration.

Holden welcomed the change: 'It's very good news for young architects and it is good that someone has come forward and pushed a little bit of change through.'However, the ARB was angry that Holden had made his grievance public by copying the letter to the trade press and ARB chairwoman Barbara Kelly stressed that a change in the rule was already in the pipeline at the time of his letter.

The ARB has confirmed that it will join the RIBA in representing the UK architectural profession at the Architects Council of Europe. The two organisations are due to meet early this year to coordinate their approach to the European forum, which represents architects across the continent, with the ARB concentrating on regulatory matters.

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