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AA set to award its own degrees – as director revives axed publication

Aa school of architecture with pavilion
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The Architectural Association (AA) has announced it could finally begin awarding its own degrees later this year, while its director has announced that the AA Files magazine is to recommence publication

The private architecture school has lodged an application for taught degree-awarding powers with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education – a move first mooted in 2013.

If approved by the agency’s advisory committee on 9 May and then the Privy Council, the school will be able to award its own degrees for the first time since it was founded more than 150 years ago. 

Currently, its degrees are formally conferred by the Open University while the AA itself is excluded from university league tables.

The application comes a year after Spanish architect Eva Franch i Gilabert was chosen as the AA’s new director.

Following her appointment, Franch – the first woman to hold the post – signalled plans to revive the AA Files which had been controversially placed in jeopardy following a series of redundancies.

In a ‘state of the association’ speech to the school last month, Franch confirmed that a new issue of AA Files would be published later this year under new editor Maria Shéhérazade Giudici, who also teaches an AA diploma unit.

Franch said the school’s finances were back on track after making a loss in excess of £800,000 in the year ending 31 July 2017.

The AJ reported last year that 10 out of 16 staff put on notice of redundancy at the AA had left the organisation. Nine were made redundant while one resigned – understood to be AA Files editor Tom Weaver.

Two of the 16 were redeployed, with the remaining four retained in their existing roles.

At the time of the cuts, AA interim director Samantha Hardingham suggested the school was overly reliant on student fees and said it had been hit by a ‘massive’ increase in rates and rents, inflated by the nearby Crossrail project at Tottenham Court Road, plus the cost of the ongoing revamp of its Bedford Square headquarters, designed by Wright & Wright.

Franch was selected as the AA’s new director after winning 67 per cent of votes in a ballot of the 1,077 current students, academic and administrative staff as well as members of AA Council.

She had previously been the chief curator and executive director of Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York for eight years.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • In a civilized society there should surely be some form of relief from the sort of 'free market' commercial property financial pressures triggered by the likes of Crossrail for institutions as valuable to that society as the AA.
    Or, to put it bluntly, an indiscriminate 'feeding frenzy' by landlords and rating authorities alike.

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