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ARB elections: Shrimplin warns of ‘grave’ threat to UK architectural pre-eminence

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UK architecture is facing a ‘grave’ threat from European directives which could ‘undermine’ its pre-eminence, a candidate standing for election to ARB’s board has claimed

RIBA-endorsed candidate Roger Shrimplin predicted a ‘major debate’ at ARB in the coming year over proposed revisions to the European Union (EU) Professional Qualifications Directive.

He warned there was a ‘real risk’ that architecture could become a four year course - to align it with some other EU countries - warning that such a move could ‘undermine the pre-eminence of UK architecture and UK [architectural] education’.

Shrimplin, who claims to have represented the RIBA in Europe for more than 20 years, urged architects to elect members with a ‘good understanding’ of the ARB board’s areas of operation when casting their votes.

The ARB and RIBA must jointly ‘strengthen our game’ to get a message across in Europe, he added.

He said: ‘As far as education is concerned there are two big issues up for discussion in the future.

‘One is the part III which we need to expand in Europe. It’s growing in France and there is an indication it can grow in Spain.

‘The other area where there is a big discussion is the status of the five year course. There will be pressures from some quarters to reduce the total length of training which will be a grave mistake.’

Changes to EU rules currently under discussion could see either a minimum four year study course with two years training introduced or a five year study course with just one year of training.

Another option being considered is to maintain the current four year minimum study requirement with no mandatory training. Meanwhile the Architects’ Council of Europe is calling for five years of study with two years training in line with current UK practice.

According to RIBA executive director for membership and professional support Richard Brindley however, the RIBA and ARB will remain committed to the current system ‘regardless of the minimum criteria established in the European Professional Qualifications Directive when it is agreed.’

He said: ‘We are advocating flexibility for countries within the EU to be able to adopt a range of options for the minimum for cross-border working, including flexibility on when and where and the professional practice experience can take place within the overall minimum 6 year proposed framework.’

The official UK government response advocated an ‘hours-based measure’ for architects in advance of ‘moving towards competence-based measures’.

The government supported the current four years academic minimum and backed the introduction of a requirement for two years of professional practice.

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