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ARB fuels foreign fees hike fury

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A massive hike in the cost of registering with the ARB for people from countries without a mutual recognition agreement with the UK has shocked London's increasingly multicultural architectural community.

Those from countries such as the US and the vast majority of Third World states will see the cost of an official assessment jumps from nearly £400 to a staggering £2,000.

The move has horrified those keen to increase free movement of architects throughout the world and those looking to set up practice in Britain. They have accused ARB officials of bringing the rules in on the quiet.

Former RIBA president Paul Hyett, a long-term campaigner for architectural freedom of trade, described the move as 'encouraging a closed-shop mentality'.

'This is an example of the ARB acting as if it has two clumsy left feet that do nothing for students and nothing for the wider profession, ' he said.

'In the olden days there were guilds that seriously restricted freedom of trade but this was broken down by the British Empire and it is about time we did the same for professional services.

'This move will seriously militate against people's right to work in this country, especially those trained in the UK, ' Hyett added.

And an anonymous correspondent, who wrote to the AJ this week, agreed. 'As foreign architects who want to practise in the UK, we are held to ransom by whatever fees the ARB decides to charge for this recognition, ' the letter says.

'It seems that the ARB has used this fact and kept it quiet in the knowledge that we will just pay up because we have no choice and no voice to complain, ' it adds.

However, ARB board member Nick Tweddell, a member of the finance committee, defended the move as 'entirely justified'.

'The way I see it is that if this is the cost of the assessment panels, this is what we should charge - there is no reason that it ought to be subsidised, ' he said.

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