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RIBA ambassadors bid to change student voting rights

Architecture Students

The RIBA’s new ambassadors for young architects have attempted to change the voting rights allowing students to have a say in who becomes the next president of the institute 

A motion was presented at the recent RIBA Council meeting in Edinburgh by RIBA ambassador for young architects Albena Atanassova, calling for student members to be able to vote in the institute’s regional and presidential elections. 

It also called on the institute to allow students and associate members to stand for regional seats on council and to stand for the position of president. 

Students currently make up 29 per cent of RIBA’s members yet make up just three per cent of the current seats on council. 

In presenting the motion to council, Atanassova said she hoped to ‘attract and keep the younger generations engaged’. 

She added: ‘If the Institute is to meet its goals and values, then the voice of the Student and Associate members should be of equal importance to those of Chartered members within regards to Regional representation and election of President, thus allowing members to elect a Council that truly represents the views of all its members.’ 

Fellow RIBA presidential ambassador for young architects and supporter of the motion, Vinesh Pomal said: ’It’s easy to say that we are all afraid of change. The RIBA has been around for 182 years and some of its bylaws and regulations are antiquated. 

‘It’s only with radical change that real progress can be made. If we want the younger generation to be involved with the profession and the institute, then it’s essential that the RIBA recognises their right to vote for regional seats and the president. This is why I whole heartily support Albena’s motion of allowing students and associate members to vote for regional seats and the president. 

‘Although the motion has been deferred to the June meeting, the RIBA Council were generally supportive of the first part of the motion in Edinburgh. I hope that they continue to support Albena and her motion; after all, the students of today are our architects of tomorrow!’ 

RIBA president Jane Duncan, commented: ‘Albena and Vinesh have been carrying out research as part of their role as presidential ambassadors for Young Architects. This led to a presentation to Council by students and young architects on how they see the future of the profession and the ways in which the RIBA might best support students and young architects.

’This provided greater insight into how we can shape the RIBA’s future offer this group, as they navigate a period of rapid change in education and a globalising profession. 

‘A motion was brought to council about potential changes to how students and associate members are represented at council and their participation in standing for office. This is clearly an important element of engaging with this key constituency and prompted a good discussion where it was recognised that further work needed to be done.

She added: ‘The outcome of the debate is that a review will be established to consider changes to achieve better representation of students and other associate groups. The results of this will be brought to a full discussion at the next council meeting in June.’

The motion, which would require a change of RIBA’s byelaws, was deferred to June’s council meeting.



Should student members be able to vote for the RIBA president?

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Ben Derbyshire

    As I pointed out in the Council debate on this issue, the median age of RIBA members stands at 57, so the membership is in urgent need of rejuvenation. So I for one heartily supported Albena Atanassova and Dinesh Pomal in their move to enfranchise the student membership in the way it influences the management of the Institute and I'm glad to see from the AJ's survey that the vast majority of respondents agree with us on that point. This is one of a number of moves we can make that promise to draw young architects, committed to the profession, to energise and modernise the RIBA's governance, discourse and communication.
    A student as President, though? Now that is another matter altogether!
    Ben Derbyshire, Managing Partner, HTA Design LLP.

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  • It is refreshing to read that this is actually being taken seriously by the RIBA. If it is to change (and it needs to) and attract a younger audience then surely student members must have a vote. They are the future of the profession and change will take time so let's start now.
    John McRae, Orms

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