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Standards as tough, if not tougher, than past

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What an extraordinary pair of letters on education from Kate Macintosh and Peter Melvin you published in the AJ (8.7.99). The Macintosh letter betrays a lack of understanding about the reality of architectural education today.

The modularisation of courses does not mean 'resits of almost unlimited numbers of modules'. It means (at least in my school) one more chance after initial failure of any of the eight modules each year. The discretion of course staff in deciding who has the requisite ability to proceed is not being 'dumbed down'. We are as tough as we were 20 years ago - maybe more so, in this era of quality assurance.

Separating riba Parts I and II from university awards would not safeguard against 'steady devaluation'. It is the joint validation system which safeguards standards. The current debacle is about who runs the accreditation system - the riba (who always thought it did but did not) or arb (who thinks it does now but does not). There is no middle way. For many years it was called that now curiously old-fashioned, politically incorrect phrase 'the Gentleman's Agreement' between the riba and the then-arcuk. It is also naive for Kate (whom I much respected when we both sat on riba Council in the 1980s) to think that the eu (it's no longer the eec, Kate, and has not been for some time) would re-write a European Directive at the petition of the club from just one of the member states. As for Peter Melvin ... I cannot recall where he learnt his drawing skills, but in order for the riba to 'draw a line in the sand' between it and arb, it has first to remove the head that is buried in the 0.2 to 2mm grains of rounded quartz. I must remember to cancel the building materials from the Kingston syllabus. My students might draw in it.

Professor Peter Jacob, Head of the School of Architecture and Landscape, Kingston University

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