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Education validation saga damages schools

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Barbara Kelly (aj 25.11.99) asserts that arb is considering its wider role in education, and that full responsibility for validation rests with the registration board. This ongoing ambiguity is sapping the energy and diverting the efforts of schools of architecture. The new agreement for validation is not on the point of being 'signed and sealed'. It has been continually delayed and interrupted by arb staff changes and 'administrative delays'. It is now doubtful that it will be implemented in September 2000, causing yet more uncertainty for schools.

The new arrangements will not transfer authority for the validation of courses to the arb, nor alter the present joint arrangements in any way that diminishes the riba's pre-eminent role in architectural education. In particular, it should be noted that exemption from the riba Examination in Architecture underpins our extensive validation system. It is unacceptable to the riba that another organisation - the arb - should be given exclusive authority to validate courses that may not have achieved acceptable standards. This would undermine the value of the riba Examination, to the discredit of the profession and the reputation of uk schools overseas. The riba will not allow this to happen and will remain fully involved in the validation of its courses.

The riba is reviewing with its lawyers the arb's authority in education. We are mindful of the statement made in the House of Lords when the Architects Act was being debated: 'We recognise that the riba plays a predominant role in architectural education and we do not wish the board to duplicate that role.' This continuing saga does nothing to promote higher standards, nor does it allow effort to be applied to solving some of the key strategic issues that face the profession, where the arb and the riba should be working in harmony.

Leonie Milliner, director of education, riba

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