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Five-year funding is safe, says institute - but at a price

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The RIBA denied this week that five-year funding for architectural courses was under threat - despite a written parliamentary answer stating that vets and architects would no longer have tuition fees paid in their fifth years because they would be employed in the private sector (unlike doctors and dentists). As our report last week stated, the majority of course costs continue to be paid via the Higher Education Funding Council. Now institute education director Chris Colbourne has received clarification from the Department for Education and Employment on the question of tuition fees. A letter from the DfEE's e du c a t i on director, C A Clark, states: 'The government is clear that the new means-tested tuition fees should apply across all years of higher education courses, irrespective of their length. These fees will on average, cover about one-quarter of the costs of teaching.'

What this means in practice is that fourth- and fifth-year architecture students will need to find £1000 per year towards their fees. The RIBA's understanding is that means-tested grants will continue to be available from local authorities for these years. But Colbourne said this week: 'I am hopeful that employers will begin to sponsor good year-out students when they return to do Part II.'

AJeditor Paul Finch rejected his accusations of misreporting. 'Our story last week was an accurate report of a written parliamentary answer. If that has resulted in clarification from the department then it has served a useful purpose. The idea that students will have to grub around seeking bursaries from practices is entirely new, and shows that government no longer regards architecture as a matter of public service, but of private profit.'

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