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Number of Irish architecture students plummets

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The property crash in Ireland has been blamed for a slump in the numbers of university architecture course applications

According to recent Central Applications Office figures, the number of prospective architecture students has dropped from 6,436 in 2005 to just 5,021 this year – a fall of 22 per cent. In contrast, over the past five years, the number of applications for all subjects actually rose by 5 per cent from 96,661 to 101,520.

Ralph Bingham, director at Murray O’Laoire architects in Dublin, said: ‘There’s been a dramatic fall [in applicants] in the past three years with the complete collapse of the construction industry.’

‘In 2007 we were on a high, which had been continuous since 1994, making the present drop all the more dramatic.’

Last month the AJ reported that almost two thirds of architects and architectural technicians in Ireland have been made redundant since 2007.

Explaining why the situation was worse in Ireland than the UK, he added: ‘Around 60 per cent of architects have been made redundant in the past two years here. People just can’t get a job and we’re back to a situation of mass emigration.’

Meanwhile in the UK, the latest statistics show that the number of applicants for courses in architecture keeps on rising. The university applications service UCAS confirmed a 36 per cent increase in applications for architecture courses, from 5,501 in 2005 to 7,496 in 2010.

As a result, several UK institutions have raised their entry requirements for students opting to study architecture. The University of Westminster now asks for 320 UCAS points compared to 300 in 2008 and Greenwich School of Architecture demands 280 points compared to 240 in 2008.

Patrick Weber, admissions tutor at Bartlett School of Architecture, said: ‘This year we had a 20 per cent increase in applications from unemployed mature students.

Despite the slump in the construction industry, Weber said that Bartlett students still had ‘very good job prospects’.

He added: ‘Only one or two of our Part 1 students this year don’t have a job, which makes us very happy. People are still recruiting and good students are still sought after.’

Caine Crawford, from architecture students’ association Archaos, thinks the subject’s increasing popularity may be due to its high profile on television and in advertising. In the current climate, he says, ‘it’s obviously not a good thing if the number of students applying just keeps on increasing’.

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