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Pressure all round

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So look at things from the viewpoint of a hard-pressed head of school, certain of one thing only: that the university will take more money from architecture students than it is ever likely to give back in resources. You face pressure from three different directions. Let us start with government aspirations for architecture and the built environment, as outlined in two recent documents, 'Accelerating Change' and 'The Fairclough Report' on construction futures.

The implication of both is that more is required of the architectural and design community in terms of urban design, sustainability, you name it.

Second are the considerable pressures imposed by the way research is demanded and assessed. The recent Research Assessment Exercise has infuriated some schools, and there is talk of legal action. One reckons that a drop from a five to four rating has cost it £1 million in lost revenue because students opted for elsewhere. There is the role of the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE), and of research councils in general. The problem is that there is no satisfactory definition existing of what constitutes architectural research, mainly because other academics cannot get their minds round the concept of what making a building means. Incredibly, lawyers mop up on research funding, even though everything they do is based on precedent, not innovation.

Finally, there is pressure from the RIBA and the ARB to teach architecture on a more practice-based basis, even though funding pressures direct schools towards appointing researchheavy staff. The heads of school manage to enjoy themselves, somehow. Schosa secretary Michael Foster has to organise a whip-round on the coach to cover the extra beverage bill.

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