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Academic community demands freedom from RIBA 'interference'

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The RIBA must respond to the escalating crisis in education by dropping the validation of all Part 1 courses, students and educationalists demanded last week.

Both the heads of schools forum SCHOSA and student pressure group Archaos warned a special RIBA Council education debate last week that the criteria set to achieve validation is damaging teaching standards.

The two bodies argued that increasing financial shortages would be alleviated if the institute ended its regime of inspections and curriculum assessments.

The recommendations came amid increasing criticism of the way the RIBA reacted to last month's top-up fees vote and the government's plans for the future of higher education.

A SCHOSA delegation told the council that both schools and students need the institute to reform its education policy 'before it is too late'.

The organisation's chair Kit Allsop told the meeting that he 'had never understood why there was any need for criteria and validation deciding how we teach Part 1'.

'We simply see no reason why it should be in place, ' Allsop said.

'The criteria is out-dated and it is taking away precious resources from the job of teaching.'

And Allsop found support from Archaos co-chair Alex MacLaren:

'Why do the ARB and RIBA feel the need to prescribe for Part 1? This should be the least structured course.

'The amount of bureaucracy involved in this process is overwhelming, ' she said. 'We need to act now and change the whole structure of education before it is too late.'

Don Gray, head of Canterbury school of architecture, warned that there was 'no way' architectural education could continue under the current set-up, describing the amount of bureaucracy as 'almost criminal'.

RIBA vice-president for education Jack Pringle admitted that there was a problem. 'Part 1 is an issue that needs to be looked at very seriously, ' he said.

'I agree that the system is too prescriptive and too lateral, ' he added. 'The best schools are the worst hit, with both innovation and specialisation being stifled.'

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