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'Improved' UCE school set to regain ARB validation following inspection

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The University of Central England's school of architecture is on the verge of winning back unconditional validation from the Architects' Registration Board.

The ARB's visiting panel has recommended that the board should back the school following an inspection two weeks ago, the AJ can reveal.

The panel's report will tell board members, who can grant or withdraw validation, that the school has made the improvements required to win back their confidence after a disastrous inspection last year. Following the visit last September, the school was informed that it had to make a series of 'wholesale improvements', and if it failed to do so it would be struck off the board's approved list.

However, an ARB source confirmed that the latest report was 'excellent' and would almost certainly meet with board members' approval.

Head of school Thom Gorst - who heard of the threat to the school's validation just five weeks after joining - said it was 'wonderful news'.

'We are delighted and very relieved, ' he said. 'We have put in a lot of work to turn it around and rebuild the school. I'm not sure if any of the academics or the students would deny the criticism in the last panel's report, ' he said. 'It is just very pleasing to have put so many of these problems right. It was a very unpleasant period of self-examination.'

Gorst added: 'However, one wonders whether the ARB might have got the timing of its announcement a little better for the sake of the students.'

The ARB first announced last year that it was considering withdrawing prescription from the school - along with that of De Montfort - but after a last ditch appeal from the universities, was given the chance to make the required improvements (AJ 5.12.02).

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