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Tuesday29 July 2014

Cost of studying architecture creates 'artificial barrier'

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More flexibility over courses needed, says new report

A report by the UK Architectural Education Review Group which says future student numbers will be governed by how much debt people are prepared to shoulder is due to be sent to Terry Farrell as part of his review into the profession.

Last week Farrell told an NLA audience that his review would have to look at how much money students are prepared to spend funding their studies, warning that currently they “will be spending close to £100,000”.

Now the Education Review Group has said the existing requirements “inhibit widening participation” which can “create an artificial barrier to the profession based solely on a student’s willingness to accept high levels of personal debt”.

Group chairman Alex Wright, who is the chair of Schosa, which represents the heads of architecture schools, said: “There is an urgent need for additional flexibility to suit the needs of students and the profession.

“The hope is that architecture can continue to attract young people of extraordinary potential and that their education will enable them to develop their ability to maximum effect. The result will hopefully see an architectural profession accessible to all people drawn from the widest possible pool of talent.

“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.”

He added that one way to cope with rising costs was to either shorten courses or let students carry out their studies alongside paid work.

“It’s quite possible people in certain circumstances should qualify quicker or more slowly so they can earn money during the course of their education.”

The report also looked into maintaining standards of professional competence and making sure UK architectural education remains competitive and able to attract students from home and abroad.

The Farrell Review is due to report to architecture minister Ed Vaizey by the end of the year with the first recommendations due to be implemented early next. Wright said he was optimistic it would make a difference. “It is better to have a review than not. I hope the report will be helpful and useful and generates sufficient awareness that people do act on it. I’m optimistic about it and I hope my optimism is well founded.”

The Education Review Group’s report was approved by Schosa at its annual conference last week which added that it “wishes to express its support for the aims identified in the report”.

Education Review recommendations include:

  • The UK allows entry into the profession via a single professional gateway
  • Professional practice develops closer relationships with schools
  • The regulation of UK architectural education is focused on the demonstration of equivalent competence by entrants to the register rather than the possession of equivalent awards

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Readers' comments (19)

  • I love it:

    "The regulation of UK architectural education is focused on the demonstration of equivalent competence by entrants to the register rather than the possession of equivalent awards".

    Given I've seen people become fully qualified as Architects without having once worked on a live project, this cannot come soon enough!

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  • Mike Duriez

    Fewer architecture students is good news.

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  • Five years is excessive. In my fifth year at architecture school I only did a dissertation and a project - all other exams, legals etc, had been done in fourth year. It was a waste of a year from my viewpoint.

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  • debt of around 100k. LOL! most architects making around
    35-45k and part 1's working on minimum wage. Its a joke.

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  • I have absolutely no doubt that the course is too long and does not focus sufficiently on technical, legal and structural matters. Architects also need a good early grounding in business in the hope that they do not undersell their skills as is rampant at present. Talented designers will always be talented, whether taught or not so why spend the bulk of their time on design when they end up not being able to control design because they lack the other skills which they can be taught! You all know that big builders are taking over the architect's role and we should not simply allow this just because the schools prefer us to be "designers" which is easier to "teach"!

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  • I have always felt that my 7 years studying to become an architect were wasteful and could have been condensed into 3. Better still, an aprentiship scheme where you work in practice and study partime would be more rewarding. I understand and agree with the argument that uni allows design skills to flourish but there is a distinct lack of the other required disciplines which should run in parallel.

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  • I fully agree with every other comment. I would also fully endorse the need for universities to promote much greater involvement from professinal practices - on the basis that the main focus must be to ensure that the Schools of Architecture are teaching skills that the profession will actually need

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  • Thing is, universities are a business. It pays for them to a) take on more students and b) keep them there for as many years as possible. They dont need to be linked to the outside world, they are moulding certain types of individuals with broad skills. That is it. It is the ARB & RIBA whom need to put pressure on the univeristies by defining the requirements to become an architect are specific and relevant. In my opinion, scrap the useless 2 years of diploma, combine an aprentiship with the part 3 teaching and early on put an emphasis on working with other disciplines. The best architects are ones that can influence and improve other disciplines.

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  • When entered into an online calculator, conservative estimates of the figures for the size of debt and level of salary architects can expect reveal that most entering the profession will never earn enough to have to pay back what they have borrowed.

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  • the education path is backware IMO.

    Start with the technical stuff. If people want to become architects and are focused more on the theory/art side of it, then have that as a Masters that one may take to further there education. It shouldn't be a requirement to being an architect. The most important thing is getting the job done.

    Of course, Universities want to weed out the business/science/management orientated people and keep the the artistic people interested in the first 3 years to get those fees. Also, a lot of lecturers just don't know the profession at all.

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