One of the flaws in the current Architects Act is illustrated by the present election to the ARB, whose result might have provided seven (the total places available) entirely new architect members with no experience of their role, since the act makes no provision for 'staggering' the election of architects for the sake of continuity, in contrast to the fact this provision is made for the non-architect state nominees to the board.
It is encouraging, however, that so many of those elected have shown themselves to be alert to the issues which have arisen, in the light of what appears to be moves to aggrandise still further what was intended to be a minimalist and economical body.
I suggest that new members consider the meaning of 'qualification' - the board's role being to 'prescribe qualifications'.
Here, help is at hand from the EU and UNESCO. The former's Architects Directive refers to 'diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications in architecture', while the latter late last year published its definition that 'qualification in higher education' means any diploma, degree or other qualifying certificate that is awarded by an institution of higher education, or another appropriate authority, that establishes that the holder has successfully completed a course of study' I argue therefore that the ARB's task to prescribe qualifications means what it says. The old act referred to the recognition of examinations; the new act does not mention schools, courses, curricula, syllabi, or examinations, it specifies qualifications and indicates that prescription should be 'by rules' - rules can be simple or complicated, the present board seeming to have chosen the latter.
I suggest the simple approach - the rule is that when prescribing qualifications (understood as certificates, diplomas, degrees, etc), the board prescribes those recognised by the profession through its visiting boards and by the state for student awards purposes.
Not only would this be in the spirit of the new act, it would also free the ARB's resources for concentration on its proper tasks of keeping a register of those qualified, pursuing those who misuse the title and dealing with the failings of individuals on the register.
Peter Gibbs-Kennet, via email