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Bottom of the class

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2004 was a shocking year for architectural education in the UK - it is hard to imagine how it could have been any worse.

Most memorable was the astonishing failure rate at the University of Central England, where 93 per cent of Part 1 students failed the course.

Equally galling was Cambridge University first threatening to close what remained of its architecture school and then carrying out a U-turn and deciding to retain it.

The reasons for the state of education are many and varied. There have certainly been issues with the Research Assessment Exercise - the government-organised initiative that decides a large chunk of the schools' funding.

There are increasing concerns over the consequences of the government's determination to push through top-up fees.

Additionally, the endless wrangling between the ARB and the RIBA over control has increased uncertainty.

What is certain is that all is not well in architectural academia.

The statistics show that architects in the AJ100 agree that the current system needs to be overhauled. Equally, however, they show that through the constant problems, many schools appear to be doing a vibrant job, despite the very tricky circumstances.

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