The House of Lords has offered hope for the future of architectural education this week with a new amendment to the controversial Higher Education Bill.
A coalition of LibDem, Tory and neutral cross-bench peers has forced the addition, which will see the application of topup fees limited to the first three years of study.
This would leave architecture students facing no more debt than undergraduates on more common three-year courses.
The RIBA has warned that students could face debts of up to £40,000 by the time they qualify if the government fails to accept changes to its reforms.
However, the amendment will now go back to the Commons for its second reading, when MPs will debate amendments successfully tabled by peers.
There is a good chance government whips will force the Labour majority to reject it.
Lord Skelmersdale, the Tory who first proposed the amendment, said he was moved to action by the situation faced by architecture and veterinary undergraduates.
'I was worried almost no-one would chose to join these professions if nothing was done to change the bill, ' he told the AJ.
'And I decided that we needed to do something to help out.'
The RIBA said it was greatly encouraged by the development.
'We are very pleased that the amendment has been adopted, ' RIBA government relations officer Steven Harding said.
'We are also hopeful about what will happen when the bill goes back to the Commons, ' he added. 'The government whips will have trouble getting it through and there is a good chance they might have to accept Lord Skelmersdale's changes.'