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Ruth Reed answers questions posed by AJ online readers

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The incoming president answers questions on the quality of education, fees and the RIBA being ‘London-centric’

Is the RIBA planning to bring [more] seminars and CPD programmes to the regions? The cost of

travelling to London is too severe.
The RIBA regions already provide excellent and up-to-date programmes of CPD and regularly poll members to find out what their needs are. However, I am concerned about the need to make the RIBA less London-centric. Clearly we need to do more.

‘I am concerned about the need to make the RIBA less London-centric.’

How do you plan to ensure that the quality of education does not slip further? We need competent staff on the other side of the downturn.
It is true that you are never appreciated in your own home. The RIBA-validated UK schools of architecture are known throughout the world for the quality of their courses. However, there is a concern that in a recession, talented students will not join the profession for lack of relevant practical experience. Both schools and practice need to work to ensure that we do not lose a generation.

How will the RIBA ensure that fees do not become depressed, as they did in the last recession?
This is a top priority for the RIBA. We all need to resist the pressure to undervalue our services and continue to demonstrate that good design and excellent delivery adds value to projects and justifies workable fees. The RIBA is lobbying government to ensure that public procurement methods recognise this and adopt processes that are less wasteful of time and money.

Would the RIBA consider reducing or scrapping its fees?
It seems unwise to reduce fees and therefore reduce capacity for services in a recession. The RIBA is busier than ever providing advice and support for architects and lobbying government to improve procurement practices. We have actually seen an increase in membership as architects realise its benefits. It’s the wrong moment to be reducing the institute’s value to its members.

Will you fight for fairer tender opportunities for smaller practices?
One essential element of improving public procurement is encouraging the use of smaller, talented practices, and this is a key consideration for the RIBA. In the meantime, combining forces with other practices to meet pre-qualification requirements is a possible route.

What are your plans regarding protection of function?
Government recognition of professional skills and qualifications in areas such as self-certification is something to be aimed for.

‘It takes between eight and 10 years to qualify, which is too long.’

Do you agree that the time it takes to qualify as an architect needs to be reduced?
Typically, it takes between eight and 10 years to qualify, which is too long. The requirements at Part 3 for extensive practical experience, including an active role in a case study, is the main cause of this. Moving to a demonstration of competencies gained across a number of projects, rather than a time-served assessment, would reduce this burden and speed up qualification. The Association of Professional Studies Advisors in Architecture and the RIBA are looking to introduce such an initiative.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Any chance, Ms Reed, that you might answer some of the questions raised by your recent suggestions of the opportunities for year out students in the current climate? I would also refer you to Gordon Murray's advice to his Glasgow students and to Ken Shuttleworth's inappropriate joke at a graduation ceremony.

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