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RIAS ‘affronted’ over RIBA membership plan

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Scottish institution seeks legal advice as RIBA approves ‘associate member’ class

Scotland’s RIAS is ‘affronted’ and ‘upset’ over controversial membership plans approved by the RIBA.

The RIBA will introduce a new ‘associate member’ class for Part 2 graduates next spring, potentially opening up RIBA membership to another 8,000 people.

The move has infuriated the Scottish institute, which only grants ‘associate’ status to fully qualified architects.

RIAS secretary Neil Baxter said he was ‘bemused and put out’ by the proposals, approved on 9 December, which he claims will result in legal problems and issues with the equality of qualifications between the countries.

Baxter said: ‘This is very problematic. The term “associate” has been written into the RIAS charter since 1922… but essentially the RIBA is bigger than us so we [will] have to change the terminology.’

In a bid to influence a council vote on Tuesday, letters were sent on behalf of the RIAS to all RIBA councillors asking them not to approve the new name. One councillor, who wished to remain anonymous, said ‘it had almost forced the RIAS to the point of divorce’.

The RIAS had hoped another name, which would not conflict with either institute, could be thought up. However, Baxter said the RIBA, which has 43,000 members, was ‘determined’ to bring in the new class despite protests from the 3,900-strong Scottish institution.

The RIBA’s executive director of professional services, Richard Brindley, said: ‘The widening of the criteria to include all Part 2s was never an issue – just what it was called. We were very conscious of the issue, but for all the external reasons and for the public, we felt it was the right word. This wasn’t done to annoy Scotland.’

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