Awareness of the symbiosis of profession and education is driving the development of both
The 1924 Congress on Architectural Education and the subsequent Oxford Conference in 1958 established the principle of an academically-based architectural education provided by universities. Admissions eligibility criteria were defined, and the foundations of the tripartite route (parts 1, 2 and 3) to qualification that prevails today were laid.
‘It is simply no good for the profession to complain about the standard of education when those who have become skilled practitioners feel unable to collaborate’ – Leslie Martin, 1958
I believe that 55 years later we need a review of architectural education. ‘Partial qualification’ is perceived as failure, there is a lack of consensus on the balance of theory and practice, profession is separated from education, and there is poor conversion of part 2 graduates to registered architects. These problems are compounded by mounting student debt and the apparent privatisation of university education, and are set in an increasingly complex construction industry.
Revisions to the Professional Qualifications Directive voted by the European Parliament in October this year present a major change to the statutes drafted in the 1970s and 80s. The RIBA pressed for flexibility and for recognition of the complementary nature of academic study and practical training. The outcome is two alternative models which will, potentially, create variations across the European Economic Area: either a minimum six year framework – four years’ full time university study plus two practical training; or a minimum five year framework – all university study and no practical training.
It is important to understand that both frameworks are a minimum standard, and that in the case of the UK, there is no appetite to lose the synergy between education and practical training – although, confusingly, this will not make the five year structure unacceptable. The ramifications of both frameworks are now subject to legal clarifications, which will make the choices clearer.
Facilitated by the vice president of education, Roz Barr, and director of education David Gloster, December’s RIBA Council received presentations from various heads of schools and others engaged with architectural education, with the intention of beginning an essential debate on reform. The suggested direction of travel proposes five key actions.
First, the framework for architectural education should be revised to enable delivery of an integrated award leading to registration. Secondly, the professional content of architecture should be embedded entirely within the integrated award. Third, within schools of architecture, teaching practices that contribute to curriculum delivery should be encouraged and developed. Fourth, advanced standing/conversion courses should be offered to holders of non-cognate and affiliated degrees (and architecture graduates from non-validated schools), although this would be subject to flexibility in eligibility criteria from professional or statutory bodies, and universities offering resources.
Finally, the pre-eminence of UK courses in architecture must be maintained and enhanced without loss of the creative intellectual, practical, and professional content informing progressive practice.
There are pivotal issues that will inform the future our profession: integration of professional matters within course delivery; restoring and enhancing synergistic relationships between practice and academia; structuring course delivery to allow a more diverse profession; above all, acknowledging, retaining, and enhancing traditions of innovation and invention which characterise UK architectural education.
May I wish all our members good fortune in 2014
On 25 September 2013 the RIBA Hearings Panel found that Mr James Burrell RIBA was in breach of Principles 2.1 and 3.5 of the RIBA Code of Conduct in that he failed to apply the expected high standards of skill, knowledge and care in the management of his practice affairs, and that he failed to have in place effective procedures for dealing appropriately with complaints.
The Panel decided that the sanction for this be a public reprimand.