May I correct the inaccuracies in Leonie Milliner's letter (aj 16.12.99). These are the facts:
As early as September 1997 and on the advice of the then registrar, David Smart, the arb took legal opinion on the correctness of the joint working arrangements between arb and the riba for the validation of courses in our schools ofarchitecture, given our responsibilities under the 1997 Architects Act. That decision was taken by the board and in full consultation with the riba, represented at the meeting by the then riba director of education, Chris Colbourne.
qc's opinion in advising was clear and unambivalent: that arb must demonstrate that it alone should take the final, informed decision. The existing working arrangements needed to be adjusted to reflect that position.
arb has, throughout this exercise, consistently expressed on record its determination to work closely with the riba, recognising the Institute's expertise and commitment to the field of architectural education.
Throughout the protracted negotiations, we have always striven to ensure that any amendments necessary should not inhibit the continuing role of the riba.
Leonie Milliner's attempt to blame the arb for the delay in reaching agreement is unjustified. It is clearly important to both parties that what is no more than a technical and procedural matter be resolved as quickly as possible.
There is no ambiguity in arb's position, which was fully debated and supported by the board, including all the architect representatives. It has been the subject of numerous meetings between the riba and ourselves; and throughout this process, representatives of schosa have been consulted regularly.
In one respect, Milliner is absolutely correct when she claims that 'the new arrangements will not transfer authority for the validation of courses to the arb'. arb already has that responsibility, and has had it since the 1931 Architects Act. Our present negotiations seek to secure with greater transparency and clarity that authority as laid out and endorsed in the new 1997 Act.
It is our earnest wish to conclude this matter to allow all parties to get on with the real job of ensuring that the quality of architectural education in the uk continues to be world class.
Barbara Kelly, chairwoman, Architects Registration Board