RIBA councillors have voted through a suite of proposals to reform architectural education and potentially end the current Parts 1, 2 and 3 system
More from: RIBA moves to scrap Part 3
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’