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Fight moves on to restore diploma

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Jubilant campaigners have decided against resting on their laurels after rescuing the Cambridge School of Architecture and have instead set their sights on getting the university to reinstate its diploma course.

Fresh from forcing university bosses into a U-turn over the future of the school - which they had planned to shut down altogether - the coalition is now determined to secure another volte-face.

It wants to persuade the vice-chancellor's department to rethink its 2003 decision (AJ 24.7.03) to close down the diploma course after it failed to win the premier five-star rating for research from the government.

'The next move is undoubtedly to launch a fund-raising effort to make sure that studio teaching can be supported in the school.

We need to make it independent of the ups and downs of university funding, ' campaign member Di Haigh said.

'Obviously we want to ensure that this fund-raising makes design teaching safe and that it can be extended. Inevitably this means more postgraduate teaching and this will be a diploma course. But what is true is that this diploma will be in a different form to anything that has gone before, because there is a wider debate about the nature of architectural postgraduate teaching, ' she added.

The move to reinstate the diploma has also won the support of Eric Parry, another leading light in the recent campaign. 'I hope that this is the intention. We need to make sure there is the money to sustain it, ' he said.

The new campaign also has the backing of the RIBA's vice-president of education, Simon Allford. 'I was really disappointed when the diploma closed, ' he said. 'Architecture is ultimately a five-year course and therefore the diploma is a key part of that course.

'The campaigners have concentrated their efforts solely on the school and there is a tremendous amount of goodwill there now. The next stage is, once you have got a school, deciding what kind of school is the best one to have. And the best is one which offers a degree and a diploma.

'It becomes a much more rounded place.

There are benefits for second-year students seeing what the fifth-year students are doing.

It can only enhance the culture of the place, ' Allford added.

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