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There's no problem with architectural education

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LETTERS

Contrary to current suggestions in the architectural press, architectural education in the UK is not in crisis. We have one of the best architectural education systems in the world.

If we wish to maintain our pre-eminent position, we must recognise that regular reappraisal of the curriculum and the process by which we validate these courses is essential. This is a process of continual improvement, responsive to an everchanging world. We must also recognise that in our modern world, academic standards are not a private matter, and nor is there anything wrong with public scrutiny.

The ARB and RIBA are working together on behalf of students, practices and the consumer to ensure that UK architectural education leads to a meaningful and useful qualification. Against this background I read with dismay your news item in last week's AJ (24.1.02) and the SCHOSA report online.

Reading the report, SCHOSA supports 'the thrust of the new criteria towards the inculcation of professionals'. It endorses criteria 'generated by demands of practice' and presumably accepts the need to protect the consumer.

It admits 'the individual revisions to the criteria are well judged' and that tomorrow's architect will be very different from that of today.

But in that light, what specific positive suggestions does SCHOSA make for improving architectural education?

It complains about there being 'a substantive shift in the balance of the education of the future', 'many schools would have to significantly alter their curriculum', and that the ARB/RIBA proposals will have 'profound implications' on architectural education. The ARB/RIBA proposal will inevitably require change. If the extent is profound, it suggests that the schools of architecture are more out of touch than SCHOSA would have us believe.

The recent ARB market research clearly suggests that the profession is of this mind.

The SCHOSA report makes many disingenuous assertions.

Does it seriously believe that either the ARB or RIBA want to discourage 'aspirational thinking', or restrict research into new technologies and new spatial or social conditions, or restrict a student's right to seek and 'propose new ideas'? The aim is to establish the minimum standard required to achieve the qualification. Good schools should have no difficulty meeting these standards, leaving them free to concentrate on their specific academic agenda, confident that their students can satisfy the professional criteria.

SCHOSA seems to believe that the ARB/RIBA proposals represent a 'challenge to academic freedom', when in fact they are an invitation to think positively about the future of architectural education in the UK.

Ian Davidson, Lifschutz Davidson

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