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School heads welcome call to scrap the Parts 1-3 system


Heads of the UK’s schools of architecture have welcomed calls to end the Parts 1-3 architectural education system

The heads of the UK’s schools of architecture have welcomed the findings of a new report which calls for the end of the Parts 1-3 architectural education system and a break with Europe-wide qualifications.

Presented to the SCHOSA annual conference last week, the landmark Pathways and Gateways document by the independent UK Architectural Education Review Group (UKAERG) recommends a new ‘simple, fair, and reliable’ gateway to becoming an architect.

The report – which will be submitted to Terry Farrell’s government-backed review of architecture policy – calls for a single access point to the profession, the ditching of the Parts 1-3 nomenclature, and a shift in the focus of UK architecture regulation from possession of equivalent awards to demonstrating equivalent competence.

These reforms, the group claims, would allow higher education institutions to develop ‘more distinctive programmes, tailored to the needs and aspirations of students and graduate employers’.

SCHOSA chair Alex Wright, who also chaired the UKAERG, said: ‘There is an urgent need for additional flexibility to suit the needs of students and the profession. The review group found a broad consensus now exists around the need for change and hopefully this report will be a significant step in helping to mobilise that consensus.

‘The aim is to promote flexibility, variety, and equity in the system. It’s in the interests of the universities and the profession to attract the most talented students and provide them with a range of possible careers within architecture and beyond it.’

Among the other demands is a break from the European Union’s professional qualifications directive which, according to the report, ‘appears to be moving in the opposite direction’ of UK needs for a more flexible framework.

A revised professional qualifications directive is expected to be published this year, setting out a Europe-wide standard for the length of architectural education and training.UKAERG said EU universities – where undergraduate architecture is funded, unlike in the UK – had promoted a restrictive framework ‘misaligned with the requirements of the English and wider UK higher education sector.’



Readers' comments (4)

  • John Kellett

    A break from providing an architectural education that meets internationally recognised standards, such as the European Directive, is very worrying.
    The profession requires new members who are fully versed in the long term ‘needs’ of the profession not the short term financial ‘wants’ of the Universities. Students wishing to become architects are not going to benefit from courses designed lower standards or increase University income.
    Courses for architects need to be both broad and deep in order to cover the knowledge and skills necessary, an undergraduate degree cannot do that. To leave University with just an ability to prepare impressive drawings is not enough, graduates wanting a career as architects need to know how buildings are constructed, how construction is managed, costs and have a good knowledge of all the guidance and legislation that applies as well as the art of architecture.
    Designers of buildings in the UK are already under qualified to meet the needs of the C21, I don’t see how shortening the education courses can improve things. Better access to part-time and online / distance courses would be a great improvement that would not lower standards and maintain adherence to internationally recognised standards.
    Perhaps educators would benefit from re-reading Vitruvius’s chapter on the education of an architect?

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  • Every year graduates struggle to find Part1 placements. It will be interesting to see how any new proposals will accommodate work experience. I initially trained as a technician, and am now studying to become an Architect, andI think that it would be unwise to allow different specialisms to practice under the title of Architect. I agree with the above comment - the current 7 year process gives Architects an unrivalled broad knowledge of construction and design. The title 'Architect' is protected (in theory). If the RIBA/ARB promoted the profession (even at the smaller scale) then maybe there would be more opportunities for students to gain 'real world' experience.
    Personally I feel that abandoning the EU directive can only be a positive move. The current situation puts British students at a disadvantage to their continental counterparts both financially and in terms of time in education. While studying for 7 years is compulsory here, in the EU 5 years training is the norm. Yet the EU directive gives allows students from the EU to come to Britain and practice as an Architect. I would argue that the RIBA should be independent from EU laws - Surely they can have a great influence on education standards without EU directives etc.

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  • Should anyone wish to read the full report it is available at http://people.bath.ac.uk/absaw/files/ and members of the review group would welcome comments up to the end of the consultation period on 12th July.

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  • This review seems very much biased towards university income rather than educational standards. It appears that:"programmes, tailored to the needs and aspirations of students" is just a fancy wording for "more courses, more students, lower entry standards, less rigour, more university income".

    From much discussion with many friends throughout academia, this architectural step simply mirrors what is commonly found throughout tertiary and post-grad education: an increased student intake; a significant drop in the quality and ability of students and; a noticeable shift towards increasing revenue from foreign student places.

    As much as I disagree with much of European bureaucracy and control, this is certainly one point on which the European Directive is correct. A universally agreed minimum professional standard - which will also allow new British Architects to work throughout Europe too.

    Given the apparent disintegration of the role of 'Architect' and its understanding from the public perspective, to dilute such further with an array of educational standards and alternative roles/careers would also seem to undermine any ARB/RIBA drive towards strengthening the position of the "Architect".

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