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RIBA moves to scrap Part 3

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RIBA councillors have voted through a suite of proposals to reform architectural education and potentially end the current Parts 1, 2 and 3 system

At a special meeting held at Portland Place yesterday (24 March), RIBA councillors backed five recommendations which could signal ‘momentous change’ for architectural education (see full list below).

The proposals included an integrated course, options for work-based learning and the possibility of immediate access onto the register of architects as soons as they graduate.  

The recommendations were the result of a two-year-long review into the education process aimed at bringing UK schools in line with new EU legislation.

It was the first council meeting to be held openly with input from students, academics and practicing architects.

Fionn Stevenson, head of Sheffield School of Architecture, said the decision could bring about ‘momentous change for architecture schools.’

She added: ‘They have effectively just thrown out the Part 3. It opens up options for new courses, with greater flexibility for students.’

A number of the recommendations suggested bringing the subjects taught at Part 3, such as business and management into the earlier years of architectural education scrapping the stand-alone Part 3 course.  

The move was welcomed by architects who also called for a greater integration of practical experience into courses.  

Speaking at the meeting, Project Orange’s James Soane, said: ‘It has been convenient for schools to outsource management and law to Part 3. These skills need to be introduced from first year.’

‘The more experience students get the better. There should be a minimum of two years practical experience’, said RIBA councillor John Assael.

While architect Niall McLauglin, added: ‘There is currently a misunderstanding about the proper place for practice and education. Schools are not merely a dry-run.’

The suite of proposals was praised for bringing about more flexibility for schools of architecture and opening up new routes for students.

Past-RIBA president Ruth Reed, said: ‘We need a flexible education system that avoids this Darwinian approach which puts students at the hands of the economy.’

Trish Andrews, senior lecturer and studio tutor, Centre for Alternative Technology, added: ‘[The recommendations] allow far more flexibility in terms of pathways through the educational system, which allows for more diversity and possible routes into the profession because of different less rigid formats.’

But Andrews added that the changes were not ‘radical’ enough, a view echoed by others at yesterday’s open council meeting.

One councillor said: ‘If we were really going to shake-up the system the changes should have been more radical. Effectively we are voting on minor changes to what we already have.’

It is now down to the schools to interpret the recommendations before the RIBA carries out a further review of its validation process next year.

‘It is down to the creative interpretation of the schools in how they might realise these options. These are recommendations in which the schools can develop proposals to take this forward’, said RIBA director of education David Gloster.

The recommendations passed by RIBA Council

Recommendation 1

A requirement for a minimum of two years of assessed professional practical experience within a typical seven year period
This option would be similar to the Parts 1, 2, and 3 system we have now which requires two years professional practice.However it is envisaged that in the future this practical experience would become more flexible and could occur at any stage in the period of study.

Recommendation 2

A seven year integrated award (with the facility for universities to still award a degree in architecture)
This integrated award will include all elements of architectural study and practical experience contained within Parts 1, 2, and 3 in one single programme in an attempt to retain students through to qualification and give them a better understanding of the profession from early on in their training.

Recommendation 3

Academic credits available for one year of work-based learning, with the option for students to study within a framework of four years full-time study and three years professional practical experience
This is an option for work-based learning which would allow students to continue their academic learning while undertaking full-time employment. The student would be employed in a practice but use their experience for academic modules assessed by the university. This route is suggested to site within a seven year structure including four years of full-time study and three years of professional practice experience, one of which would be work-based learning.

Recommendation 4

A 300 ECTS credit programme compliant with the requirements of the Bologna agreement
The Bologna agreement was signed in 1999 and aimed at creating a European Higher Education Area enabling greater mobility and transferability between EU countries. This option would create a two-cycle programme of a 180 credit Bachelor’s degree and a 120 credit Master’s degree.

Recommendation 5

Access to the register of architects and title of architect on successful completion of the integrated course
This draws on the systems in place internationally, where after the completion of a single award or an undergraduate and masters programme of five or six years in length, graduates leave university with the title architect and membership to a professional organisation. Often the newly-qualified architect is limited in the size of project they can undertake in the first two years.

Further comments

Stephen Hodder, RIBA president
‘This has been the most rigorous and collaborative review of architectural education in fifty years via an extensive consultation with architects, students, academics and clients. I’m delighted that we have some clear recommendations for changes to architectural education ensuring that the RIBA validated architecture course represents an assured academic benchmark. These changes will ensure that future generations are inspired to become leading architects in the UK and globally.’

Karen Holmes, the interim registrar and chief executive, ARB
‘The ARB’s review of routes to registration was due to commence in early 2015 but the Board took the decision to delay this whilst awaiting the outcome of the government’s periodic review. The ARB is mindful that a number of key stakeholders have conducted, or are in the process of conducting reviews in relation to the education of architects and routes to registration. The findings of these important studies will feed into ARB’s review of routes to registration when it takes place, after the outcome of the periodic review is known.’

Jack Pringle, Pringle Brandon Perkins + Will
‘Our architectural education system needs an overhaul. Currently students enter practice with poor business and client skills and receive very poor pay in return. We are in danger of becoming a rich kids profession with very little diversity. We need to get Part 3 integrated early on in the education before the bulk of practical experience.’

Jane Duncan, RIBA president elect
‘As practitioners we are not doing our job. This is the future of our profession and it will die out if we do not nurture all those who work for us. The cost of studying will be a severe deterrent for a number of skilled students. This is not acceptable. We have to do better. What was discussed was exemplar. I have never listened to council, students, academics, and practitioners all in a room together. There is potential in this for how we could discuss lots of things in the future.’

Dinah Bonat, co-founder ZCD Architects and tutor at University of East London
‘What has been happening recently is a diversification of routes to qualification, led by different schools in response to market rules and allowed by the ARB and RIBA (Oxford Brookes ‘in practice’ course, now the LSA and Sheffield). It seems unlikely in this context that the RIBA will narrow the options down to rule these out and they come from a genuine need for students to earn money whilst they are studying an expensive course that doesn’t result in a well-paid job. This diversification seems to have been a bit ad-hoc and is putting pressure on all schools to offer alternative routes, so some clarification is urgently needed.’

 

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Readers' comments (8)

  • What does this mean for Architects who qualified outside the EU? Does this new framework enable us to come under the professional umbrella?

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  • Paul McGrath

    The fact is, it is Europe, not the RIBA driving this review. The European dimension to UK architectural education is always downplayed almost to the point of being ignored. Our archaic route to registration has always been out of step with the aim of standardising architectural education across Europe. The anomalies that resulted from the RIBA and the ARB sticking to its guns when challenged on the validity (not content) of Part 3 for years look pretty hollow now following this debate.

    Whether this has any real impact on the ARB remains to be seen. Having looked in detail at architectural education 5 years ago, it was clear then how outdated the single, stepping stone route is/was. The sooner multiple routes to registration come about the better.

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  • "Currently students enter practice with poor business and client skills and receive very poor pay in return".

    March Students of architecture are in my experience, clever, articulate, critically engaged and motivated by a belief that architecture can improve lives and be a catalyst for positive change. They may have poor business skills but leave university highly motivated and with the expectation that they are entering a profession with integrity, purpose and a clear artistic and philosophical direction.

    Instead, are more likely to find a profession that is currently bogged down with issues of low fees/ low pay; value engineering, speculative work, meaningless competitions, BIM and supplanted by project managers, “key stakeholders” and accountants.

    The universities, not the offices, are where architecture as the mother of the arts is still practised, and ideas about place making, aesthetics, beauty and a willingness to experiment is undertaken, architecture and urban design discussed and critical engagement expected.

    It is practice that is letting students down, not the other way around.

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  • Chris Roche

    A thorough review of Architectural Education and access to professional registration is long overdue, and concerns a much wider constituency than the current RIBA Council. Hopefully this initiative is merely the start of a wider evolutionary process, the ultimate aim of which should be to ensure the survival of the profession with student demographics representing a diverse society, rather than a minority urban elite.

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  • I wonder what will happen to Part II graduates who want to qualify but are fed up with the restrictions of RIBA? I have had countless conversations with Part II graduates who are looking at other ways to move on with their careers (leaving the country being one of them), because they see friends and colleagues in the same industry earning double than them with with less experience. Being one of these alumni's I can confess at this stage being an employed Part II in the UK leaves you with less purpose and even lesser pride.

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  • Well said Alan Dunlop.
    I find it astonishing that a profession that has continually demonstrated poor business and client skills and an institution the has feebly allowed the emasculation of the profession it represents (and of architecture itself) should be interfering with a hugely successful business model - namely UK architectural education, which because of the high quality of it's product, attracts, every year, thousands of students from the UK and all over the world and whose innovative practitioners are highly sought in institutions all over the world. Not only are MArch students talented and motivated, they are increasingly cross disciplinary, entrepreneurial and disillusioned with what the profession has to offer them. The best of them are already seeking other more rewarding forms of creative life.

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  • My father was an architect. I was born in a post-war council house of his own design, a fact whose rarity only struck me as I grew older. We never had much money, and throughout our childhood he would be maintaining and altering our subsequent home, familiar with all aspects, including structures, obviously.
    It was only when years later I found myself in the building trade that I realised that this, too, was unusual.
    Over thirty years, from humble labourer to stonemasonry main contractor, one common thread was the indifference, indeed plain ignorance, of many architects about the practical assembly details of the buildings of which they affected to be the designer. Some were OK; many meant well; some were dangerously aloof; but it seemed inconceivable for any of them to share the belief that was axiomatic to my father - that an architect needs to know how to build.
    Even worse, if you tried to tie them down on some point of detail, they would usually dodge, saying that the point was for the QS, the structural engineer, the drafting technician or the main contractor to deal with. At times I was seriously at a loss as to what some actually contributed to the process.
    Life is long, and building trades normally begin to be studied in the mid-teens. Is it really beneath the dignity of the profession to insist that no candidate will be accepted on a degree course until they hold an advanced diploma in one of the traditional trades?
    We would laugh at an admiral who had never been to sea, a general who had never passed through basic training, or a conductor who had never mastered an instrument. Is it too much to ask that an architect should be someone who knows how to build?

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  • Ben Derbyshire

    To find a new raison d’être, architects must embed themselves in the means of production - in the industrial complex of the development process – both planning and manufacture. And in this milieu, they must understand that it is the consumer of the development process who must benefit from the value added by design. To remain outside or above the process might once have been tolerated, but no more.

    Now architects must roll up their sleeves and become designers in industry. And as in all industrial processes, success will rest entirely upon whether design is perceived by consumers to add value. In my view designers are far more likely to add value to society if their contribution is tested in the marketplace. The market mechanism self regulates and prevents the kind of expensive disaster that resulted in so much of the post-war production being wastefully demolished, and the reputation of the profession disastrously damaged.

    That's why the profession needs to get alongside, then inside, the producers and why Stephen Hodder is right that the profession and the educators should prepare architects to meet the design needs of the producers, improving the design of the product from within. In the era of small government and the return to growth, we must infiltrate the industry, and put dreams of government patronage for an architect designed utopia behind us

    Ben Derbyshire
    Managing Partner HTA Design LLP
    Chair, The Housing Forum.

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