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Architectural Association accounts show £800,000 loss

Aa school of architecture with pavilion
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The Architectural Association made a loss in excess of £800,000 last year, its annual report has revealed

The cash-strapped school – which made nine redundancies this winter – posted net expenditure of £819,732 for the year ending 31 July 2017, according to accounts due to be filed at Companies House.

This compared with a net income of £244,551 in the previous year.

Staff costs accounted for £8.3 million of gross expenditure of £18.4 million in the latest year. The association averaged 57 full-time equivalent academic staff as well as 104 non-academic workers and three people in publications.

The top-paid job netted former director Brett Steele around £175,000 in salary and bonuses.

Steele’s package is thought to have equated to almost £100 per hour. He left the organisation last year to become dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Samantha Hardingham became interim director at the AA in August 2017, and New York-based Spanish architect Eva Franch i Gilabert is set to take the reins on a permanent basis later this year.

Hardingham last year said the AA 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.

She said the school was seeking taught degree-awarding powers (TDAP) to strengthen the value of its qualifications. This process involves convincing the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education of the school’s sound governance and financial viability.

The annual report said: ‘Expenditure increased in the year due to one-off costs in governance reform as part of preparation for the TDAP application, together with increased costs of compliance monitoring and property rentals at Bedford Square.’

Further explaining the AA’s income situation, the report reads: ’Student numbers did not meet targets resulting in tuition fee income of £15.7 million in 2017 (2016: £16.3 million).

’However, improved trading and restricted income meant that the overall income remained stable at £17.6 million in 2017 (2016: £17.7 million).  

The AJ reported earlier this 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 – understood to be AA Files editor Tom Weaver – resigned.

Meanwhile a positive note was sounded this week by the AA’s gender pay gap report, which showed that the school’s median female staff salary was equal to its median male salary.

Men earned 2.6 per cent more using the mean calculation.

There were more women than men in the top quartile of the school’s payroll, and more men than women in the lower quartile. This is in contrast to many pay disparity reports that have been published by the sector this month.

Bonus pay was 116.8 per cent higher among women than men at the AA, using the mean method. A higher proportion of women received bonuses than men.

In response to the gender pay gap figures a spokeswoman said: ‘With our AA XX 100 exhibition celebrating women at the association, and the hiring of our first female director, we are delighted that these figures show all our staff are paid equivalent pay for equivalent work.’

Franch is expected to spend time at the school over the summer, and to start work by September at the latest. Her contract is being finalised and talks are ‘positive, all going in the right direction’ said the spokeswoman.

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