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How elementary is RIBA education plan?

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A quick first reading of the riba's latest consultative paper on architectural education put me in mind of a Sherlock Holmes mystery: principally the one where the dog achieved significance by not barking in the night. This is the first review for a generation or more not to be driven principally by external threat or major change. Perhaps its inception had more to do with internal politics or was an ironic dying spasm as the institute's authoritative role in the oversight of qualification and performance was thrown away.

However, given an opportunity for a relatively relaxed and reflective enquiry, it might have been expected to lay particular emphasis initially upon content rather than upon its apparent obsession with the evanescent features of the current uk higher education system. Good foundations for such a freer look forward were laid some while back by the comprehensive reconsideration of the riba's examinations in architecture and in professional practice (Part 3).

The next level of priority would then surely be to consider how the content of the initial preparation to start life as an architect could be conveyed, within the resource constraints affecting institutions and individuals in the uk, given the (all-party) trends in government spending. This would in turn give rise to reflection on the parts that the Institute and practice might once again play in pre-qualification education and training and the balance with cpd; in short, how the profession may mitigate the growing financial and other difficulties in the way of getting qualified. (Unwelcome straws in the wind here are the institute's seeming retreat from offering its own examinations and from its open learning project).

Finally, to help with some fresh thinking, the review might be more outward- looking than it appears. For example, there is now a substantial 'family' of schools with riba-recognised courses around the world which could have been drawn in strongly from the start to confirm or challenge uk thinking on content and funding.

I hope that these larger dimensions are there somewhere or are planned for later stages.


Bisley, Gloucestershire

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