Without experience students cannot qualify, so how can we avoid a ‘lost generation’?
More from: RIBA Part 3 debate
‘Recent graduates will find the recession an unwelcome novelty,’ says RIBA director of education David Gloster, in reference to the final hurdle to qualifying as an architect: RIBA Part 3.
Part 3 requires students to clock up a minimum of 24 months’ experience and undergo formal assessment to demonstrate a number of competencies based on the RIBA Plan of Work. So, not only do students need to find a job, they need to find the right kind of job – almost impossible in the current economic climate.
‘Part 3 still reflects the culture and nostalgia for an apprentice-based system. Its requirements have been fiddled with but never properly interrogated nor reformed since the late 1950s,’ says Alastair Robertson, professional studies advisor at the Architectural Association.
The course is now under review but if, how and why its content and format should be adapted to reflect the needs of modern practice, is hotly debated.
At the recent Association of Professional Studies Advisors in Architecture (APSAA) conference in Dublin, the consensus was pro change, with the caveat that professional standards must not be undermined. Schools are doing their best to maintain industry engagement with students who >> have been let go and as a result risk losing their case study projects and block of experience.
‘Young professionals have already committed at least six years to architecture, building up debt and investing a huge amount of intellectual capital. If they are not supported, it is likely that this talented group of students will go elsewhere – as they did in the last recession,’ says Stephen Brookhouse, Part 3 course leader at the University of Westminster.
Westminster has won £400,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to support unemployed and underemployed built environment professionals during the recession but there is only so far individual schools can go, as ultimately it is professional bodies that determine the qualification.
While RIBA has a number of initiatives under way, the Architects Registration Board felt it would be ‘premature to put forward specific proposals.’
While the time it takes to qualify might not be an issue for those already in practice, the title ‘architect’, and with it the extra pay and ability to set up on their own, is what most students are aiming for. But the recession’s impact on employment prospects has just moved the goalposts.
The AJ asked key stakeholders: How should Part 3 change? Read their opinions in ‘related stories’, right.