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Hull College to scrap architecture courses after RIBA withdraws support

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Hull College is to scrap two key building design courses after the RIBA removed its validation of one of them and ended plans to support the other, as well as outlining ‘serious concerns’

The East Yorkshire institution said it was closing its undergraduate and postgraduate architecture degrees to new entrants as part of a major overhaul from September.

It comes after the RIBA Education Committee withdrew validation of the college’s BA (Hons) Architecture Part 1 course as well as removing candidate course status – a stepping stone to full validation – from Hull’s MArch Part 2 offering. It is believed to be the first time in 40 years that the RIBA has withdrawn its validation from a UK degree.

The committee acted in line with recommendations made by the RIBA’s visiting board, which highlighted a number of major issues after a trip to Hull in December. 

For both the BA and MArch courses, ‘serious concerns’ were raised regarding failure to: deliver graduate attributes; meet required academic standards; and provide an appropriate-quality student experience. The RIBA board found ‘immediate evidence of a shortfall in staffing’ affecting both courses.

Its report said: ‘The board failed to find evidence that the college has adequate systems, resources and staffing made available to them by the college that would guarantee the rigorous and systematic upholding of standards and student learning experience in meeting the RIBA graduate attributes and general criteria.

‘This failure to adequately resource and support the operation of the architecture programme results in the board having no confidence that the criteria and attributes can be met at the present time or at a time in the future that would allow ongoing validation of the BA(Hons) Architecture Part 1 or the ongoing candidate status of the MArch at Part 2 level.’

RIBA education director David Gloster told the AJ the decision to withdraw validation was a ‘serious’ step taken ‘with great reluctance’ when no other course of action was considered viable. 

Gloster said no students graduating after this summer would receive validated qualifications, although the college said it was working to secure this status for students currently in their first and second years of the BA.

Hull College added that alternative courses were being considered to offer new applicants from September.

Interest in programmes offered by the Hull School of Art and Design has been in decline for many years, said the college.

‘We are continually reviewing the higher education offer here at Hull College Group with the ever-expanding creative industries sector in our sights,’ it added in a statement.

‘Hull College will be launching the first of a new, design-focused suite of programmes in September. The current architecture provision as it looks now will cease delivery at level 4. This decision could be reviewed should employer demand change again in the future.’

An architecture programme was first established in Hull back in 1930, but it was renamed and transferred to the University of Lincoln’s Brayford Campus in 2003.

Then, in 2010, Hull College’s Hull School of Art and Design – established in 1861 – set up an architecture degree course, cited at the time as ‘effectively a resurrection of the Hull School of Architecture degree’.

One former student said: ‘This is a massive blow for the college. The tutors who set it up have strived to achieve RIBA Part 1 accreditation and were working towards the same for Part 2 but the rug has been pulled from under them.

‘It’s sad as a former student as the school had a great reputation in the 1970s and 80s, being known as left-wing and socially focused. It was much-loved, many former students keep in touch. Hull turned my eyes to architecture being committed to sorting out problems in society, rather than remaining an aesthetical distraction.

‘It is also sad for the region because Hull is an excellent city that is good at having at least one of everything – now the closest place to study architecture will be in Leeds.’

In a further blow, the Architects Registration Board said it would take into account the RIBA report when deciding early next year whether to continue allowing Hull’s architecture courses to count towards professional qualification and registration.

The ARB said the RIBA findings would be ‘considered’ as part of a monitoring process that began at the start of this year.

‘The RIBA validates courses for the purposes of membership of their professional body,’ it said in a statement. ‘As regulator of UK architects, we prescribe the UK qualifications required for entry to the Architects’ Register and practice using the title.’

Both the BA and MA courses are currently prescribed by the ARB, which added: ‘The school is due to renew prescription of both qualifications as part of the normal process by 30 January 2020 and they have an annual monitoring submission date of 31 January each year.

‘In order to preserve the independence of the board’s decision-making processes, we do not comment on specific annual monitoring or prescription processes until the board has made a final decision. Information on such decisions is published once the relevant prescription processes have been completed. 

‘We will do all we can to support those involved during this time and any student who would like further advice or support is welcome to contact us.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • This is truly awful news for a school of Architecture that returned to its roots in 2010. I studied at the original school from 1989 to 1996 and I spent time part time tutoring in 2016 as well as putting together a slide show of my work to date.
    This is a blow to a city that should have a school of architecture due to its geographical position and population size and the history of architectural teaching I hope will come back.
    I hope a better story unfolds.

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