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Who, why, what and where

Stephen Hodder

Getting the membership criteria right remains a priority

The new structure seeks to make the RIBA more accessible and inclusive to a wider range of architects and co-professionals, without diminishing standards or the status of our chartered members

In early 2012, as vice president of membership, I initiated a major review of the ­RIBA’s membership, which I am now championing as a presidential priority with our current vice president of membership, Ant ­Clerici. Its purpose is to ensure the RIBA’s membership offer is relevant and valuable to the ­profession, and responds to the changing shape and needs of architects and the global market, in the 21st century and beyond.

This began with the largest consultation of our membership that I can recall, and you may have contributed to this.

RIBA Council has now agreed the key principles of our new membership structure, which sets out a clear professional path: from those just starting their studies through to those who have achieved a distinguished career in the multiple fields of architecture. I must emphasise that it includes maintaining the globally recognised professional excellence of RIBA chartered membership. It also seeks to make the RIBA more accessible and inclusive to a wider range of architects and co-professionals, without diminishing the standards or the status of our chartered members in any way. The principles also include making the membership offer more valued, relevant and focused to architects and practices, and to support professional development wherever you are in the world.

Five steps

We are now developing five steps and categories and enhancing our ‘affiliate’ membership class to engage with co-professional and academic colleagues. Those with architectural and RIBA qualifications who have left architecture could re-join the professional pathway categories, should they wish to return. The categories are:

1. Student: Free membership open to all students on an RIBA-validated Part 1 course, in the UK and internationally.

2. Graduate: New membership class to recognise those with a Part 1 qualification and doing a part 2 course or professional  experience.

3. Associate: The existing membership class for Part 2 qualified who are either enrolled on a Part 3 RIBA validated course or doing professional experience, but also open to architects who have EU directive-recognised qualifications. In recognition of the status of this category, Council has agreed for the provision of an affix which will be clearly differentiated from that for chartered members. 

4. Chartered: As existing with improved benefits and services also focusing on our international members.

5. Fellow: New membership class (different to the old FRIBA) to recognise established chartered members who can demonstrate distinguished achievement in or for architecture.

There is still much to do in developing the detailed criteria and improved relevant benefits and services for each of these membership categories and the appropriate subscription rates. The next step is for Council to agree the detailed criteria in December 2013 and, if approved, to call a special general meeting early in 2015 to gain the approval of the RIBA membership.