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All good funds: now two teams to tackle the crisis

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I applaud Alan Phillips' initiative in setting up the Architecture Education Trust (AJ 20.11.03) as much as I respected him as a teacher when we were colleagues at Kingston. However, in his quoted comments he may be both wrong and right.

There is a 'conduit for giving a little back'. When the ARB was formed in 1997, the new statute did not allow it to act as a charity.

ARCUK's accumulated funds of £130,000 for student awards and research bursaries were transferred to the RIBA and for the past six years the Education Trust Funds Committee, which I now chair, has allocated money to students in financial hardship.

Even with accrued interest the fund has dwindled to £30,000.

Allocations to students this year of £15,000 will mean we can give help for 2004/05, but not thereafter. Despite the best efforts of my predecessor Larry Rolland, it has proved impossible to get corporate funders interested. Many architects did not realise that 16 per cent of their ARCUK retention fee of £30 (those were the days) meant that each person on the register contributed £4.80 a year to help students in difficulty, and this part of their retention fee helped enormously.

In the knowledge that the fund was declining to crisis point the committee has been trying to persuade the RIBA to allow either a voluntary 1 per cent addition to members' subscriptions (which could generate £51,000 a year for students in increasing financial hardship as the 2006 fees top-up looms) or for just £1 from each member to enable us to continue to allocate at our present level.

When I became chair in September this year, I wrote to the president asking if I might have the opportunity to put the case to the council. If the RIBA fails to respond to this crisis in funding for students in hardship, then maybe it is as moribund as Alan Phillips asserts.

I wish Alan success in getting £100 from each architect. If he does, then my committee has a very well-tried, confidential and sympathetic awards group to help him allocate it.

Peter Jacob, Gloucestershire

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