Friday25 July 2014

Fees hike fails to put off students

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Architecture courses as popular as ever, say universities

Architecture schools across Britain are bursting at the seams on the eve of the new academic year.

The record hike in tuition fees and the first fall in A level standards for years have been brushed aside by bullish architecture deans.

They said competition for places was fierce, meaning only the most gifted students are being accepted on to courses.

At the Bartlett 1,800 people fought over 80 places, but the picture was repeated at universities from Portsmouth to Newcastle, which reported a “bumper crop”.

“We’re full. Architecture seems as popular as ever,” said Mike Angus, director of education at Strathclyde. “We certainly haven’t been panicking about whether we’d fill our places. You never know what the consequences of fee changes will be but the predicted headache hasn’t happened.”


Architecture courses are as popular as ever, despite the hike in fees

At Kingston Daniel Rosbottom said they had been overwhelmed with applications at parts I and II. “We have had so many outstanding applications at diploma that we’re thinking about adding a fifth studio to the course,” he said.

Around 30 institutions are listed on the UCAS Clearing website as still having places for undergraduate architecture. Greenwich, Brighton and the University of East London still have space.

But in many cases institutions are in Clearing to cream off students who did better, not worse, than expected.

One of the schools taking advantage of the new “room at the top” rules is Manchester where head of school Tom Jefferies said they had managed to squeeze in a few more of the brightest students despite being full.

He said it was good for the profession that competition remained tough despite the prospect for students of graduating with £60,000 of debt. But he challenged the industry to start paying salaries that justified the fees.

Paul McCombie, acting head at Bath, said: “Architecture is a very popular subject and every school has high standards of entry. Our course is very heavily oversubscribed and it’s difficult to get in.

“If you have missed your grades by a sizable chunk I’d advise you to take a year out and either reapply with better grades or rethink your career.”

Meanwhile Bartlett sees fall in private school applications

The only indication that the new fee regime has had any impact was at the Bartlett where applications from privately educated students were down slightly.

Director Marcos Cruz said this was balanced by a small upswing in state school applicants.

“We think private school parents probably asked their children: ‘Are you sure you want to study architecture?’ Some may have gone to the US, but we think they’ll be back next year. People need time to come round and see there aren’t a lot of alternatives.”

Overall, applications to the Bartlett were down by 10% from a high of 1,900 last year, when students scrambled to get into university before fees went up.



Readers' comments (20)

  • Munter Roe

    Who is advising these students? MADNESS.

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  • You do have to wonder if architecture attracts particularly unintelligent students

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  • zecks_marquise

    @Munter - The UCAS computer. Anyone that studies art with science or mathematics at A-level is f*cked for life

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  • Munter Roe

    I think half the problem is these people have been advised that the economy will be booming again in 7years time when they are ready to get a job. Univseristies are a business now with little tought for the consumer (formerly known as students).

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  • 5% will drop out in the first few weeks when they realise that all the arty-farty stuff isn't for them. By the end of the year, 25% will have dropped out or transferred to other courses.

    I wouldn't advise anyone to be put off because of the fees... they will never get repaid back in full.

    As to Tom Jeffries challenging the industry to pay salaries that justify the fees. Yes great. I'm all for that! However, I would challenge the Universities to provide 'value' for their fees and produce graduates who are not only creative, imaginative, intellectual problem solvers with excellent graphic design skills; but who also have the pragmatic and technical skills needed to be profitable in a practice.

    If I was paying (sorry borrowing) £9k a year - I'd want to be taught the skills needed to get a job (and do that job well) instead of having to rely on philanthropic practices to teach on the job after graduating.

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  • Perhaps the Manchester head of school should spend some time out here with practices and understand the economic realities of practice before suggesting that salaries should increase to recompense students for the astronomical debt levels they incur whilst studying at his institiution.

    It is time for all schools of architecture, ARB and the RIBA to get together and completely revise the way that architecture is taught.

    The courses are too long and seem to be totally divorced from the profession in what they teach. Students leave Uni with fundamentally unrealistic expectations about what we do in this profession and what they might reasonably expect to get back from their investment, Oh and it's a load more than 60k if you include living costs, year out costs as an 'intern', and final review presentation costs, probably closer to 90-100k!

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  • kamiichi

    Why does RIBA allow new Part 1 courses? Salford Uni anyone?

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  • Totally agree Stephen. i think we wrote our comments at the same time!

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  • I don't think this exhibition reached the guidance Councillors at 2nd level - it probably should.


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  • I don't think these students are MAD at all...

    Architecture is a great degree to study regardless of whether you go into the industry or not, it will set those 'bright' 'intelligent' students up for life, in whatever industry they decide to go into.

    My belief is that the more architecturally trained graduates that there are out there the better our lives as architects will be. Maybe one of them will go on to become someone who will actually effect and change planning policy at the highest level, or god forbid it become @munter roe's or @zecks_marquise's future clients. We all know that architecturally literate clients tend to be good clients and we should stop worrying that they will all become our competitors (even though this too could be a good thing!).

    Recent figures obtained from the RIBA education department show that the majority of students choose not to go on to become architects (around 4000 start on a RIBA Part 1 course each year and 800 get their Part 3 - which leaves the profession flat lining rather than growing)

    Let's celebrate the fact that in a time of increased student debt, and a nervousness within our own profession. We have courses of architecture that are still attracting the very brightest and the best. We need them now more than ever!

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