The hidden costs of studying architecture are causing profound suffering

Eleanor Jolliffe

Shocking stories of struggle and even homelessness mean schools must treat reform as a matter of urgency

The RIBA Council’s three student representatives recently wrote an open letter to the heads of all accredited architecture schools urging them to publish costs for school field trips, large-scale models and cumulative printing in their course and module structure, as well as details of alternative assessment provisions or subsidised programmes.

This was their response to real-life struggles they read about while assessing applications for the RIBA hardship fund. Like so many of the issues with architectural education, the high cost of an architecture degree is news to few. However, with higher fees the financial pressures of studying architecture are pushing some students close to breaking point. These three council members have chosen to represent the RIBA’s student members and call for change – and I heartily applaud that.

Assuming a maximum maintenance loan plus fees, a student will graduate after five years of full-time architectural study with a minimum debt of £88,500 (£101,300 in London). (This assumes no loans are required for the year out or part III). This is an incredible burden to take on for a career where your salary is likely to max out well short of six figures.

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