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Bartlett students 'are not ready for practice', say RIBA inspectors

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Many of the Bartlett's students are leaving its diploma course unfit to practice in architecture, a RIBA visiting board has said.

The board - which granted the Part II course only conditional validation - condemned the diploma as 'too conceptual'.

It has demanded that the school stop diploma students taking 'conceptual courses in both the first and second year' because it leaves them 'completely unready for the practice of architecture'. It is understood that the RIBA and the school's leadership are in negotiations in an effort to solve the crisis.

The RIBA's head of validation, Chris Ellis, told the AJ that the visiting board 'was concerned students were allowed to study the experimental units in both their diploma years'.And he also said the board was 'determined that students should study practical and traditional disciplines of architecture before they graduate with a diploma'.

However, former Bartlett lecturer Simon Allford dismissed the criticism and defended the conceptual content. 'The basis of the diploma should be about opening people's minds to what architecture could be, ' he said.

'We must be very careful that schools do not start turning out dreary architects and dreary graduates. Academia is one of the few places where we have the opportunity to research the future of the discipline.'

He added: 'What in the past has been considered too conceptual is the norm now. Look at the blobs developed in schools in the 1960s; they are all over the place, in every proposed art gallery in every town in Britain.'

The ARB, which also granted the Bartlett conditional validation for its Part II earlier this year, said it would 'take the RIBA's visiting board into consideration next time we assess its status'.

The RIBA's visiting board has also recommended continued validation for De Montfort University's Part I and Part III, while granting conditional validation to Part II. The ARB, which de-validated the university in February, said it would take this report into account the next time it received an application for prescription.

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