Two thirds of teachers who responded to a survey did not support plans to abolish parts 1, 2 and 3

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Students and academics are at loggerheads over Arb’s plans for the biggest shake-up of architectural education in 50 years.

The regulator has published the results of a consultation on the reforms held earlier this year, showing a clear divide in opinions between teachers and those being taught.

The proposals include replacing the part 1, part 2 and part 3 qualifications with a two-part approach to improve access to the profession, and basing this on a new set of competency outcomes putting emphasis on what an architect can do, instead of what they are taught.

The new regulatory framework for how architects are trained and educated was sent out to consultation in February after two years of development.

It aims to modernise the competencies required of architects to face emerging and future challenges, including the climate emergency, and improve the flexibility and innovation for universities and other types of learning providers. 

ARB also wants the reforms to remove regulatory barriers, making its approach to quality assurance more proportionate and creating the flexibility for new routes to registration as an architect in the UK.

Two thirds, 66%, of academics thought the proposed regulatory framework would not achieve Arb’s vision, while nearly the same amount of students, 62%, thought they would.

Overall, 40% agreed with Arb that the changes would achieve its vision, and 43% disagreed.

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There were high levels of support for all proposed competencies, with 74% agreeing on professional and ethics, 73% on design, 64% on research and evaluation, 65% on management practice and leadership and 71% on contextual and architectural knowledge.

The majority of respondents, 60%, disagreed with the proposal to remove the current two-year minimum duration of professional practical experience. ARB received a diverse range of ideas and concerns about the role of practices in its proposals, and the impact its proposals would have on them.

Arb chair Alan Kershaw said the feedback had helped inform some significant changes to the regulatory framework which can “only strengthen its implementation”.

“It’s important now that the board builds on the compelling feedback to further improve the proposals, which is why we’re establishing an independent commission to review Arb’s practical professional experience requirements and develop new recommendations,” he said.

Hugh Simpson, chief executive and registrar, said the most important learning was that the new competencies are a “fitting update” to the old criteria.

“The competencies received the highest level of support from respondents, so ARB can be confident that we’ve accurately described the role of the architect of the future, equipping future architects with the skills and knowledge they need to design safe buildings and environments and help to tackle the climate emergency,” he said.

Arb is also proposing the introduction of compulsory CPD, and requiring registered architects to write a yearly reflective statement charting their professional development.

Results of a survey on the plans published in June showed strong opposition to the plans, with more than two thirds of respondents not supporting the statements.