April 08 2014

RIBA and ARB to Restructure Architectural Education in the UK

In the UK the route to becoming a qualified architect averages at almost ten years, longer than most other EU countries. With recent debates about high drop-out rates in architectural education and low percentages of females working in practices, will a reduction in educational length help with these issues. Should architectural education be so long?

Architectural education in UK, studio time

Studio environment seen across many schools of architecture

As part of a new EU directive, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Architectural Registration Board (ARB) have teamed up to re-examine the UK’s architectural education. The EU directive seeks to provide uniformity in architectural education within European countries. This would standardize the time it takes to qualify as an architect and establish mutual recognition of the title, which would allow more freedom for architects to move between countries. Overall, the educational reform that RIBA outlined indicates principles that aim to further integrate professional practice with education. 

These principles seek to remove the current Part 1, 2 and 3 course scheme and instead substitute for what is known as a “5+0” or a “4+2”. These numbers relate to the years in education and work experience required for architectural certification. The substitute schemes reduce the overall time to qualify as an architect but also allowing two paths could cater for a more diverse range of people interested in different aspects of architecture. Integrating an option that includes work experience is similar to civil engineering and planning degrees in the UK.

Guardian architecture critic Oliver Wainwright comments on the UK architectural education system, as “out of date and sealed off from the realities of working in the industry.” The three-part system was result of RIBA’s Conference in 1958. Hence the new education scheme increases the integration of education with practice. After completion of the two years undergraduate, the student or tutor decide whether to go straight through to masters level for three years (known as the “5+0″), or instead take two placement years and then return for a two years masters (“4+2″).

Minnesota concept diagram, Architecture education

Concept diagram of University of Minnesota M.S. in Architecture, research practices

Earlier last year an American university launched a fast-track architectural course similar to the one that RIBA is proposing. The University of Minnesota promised to half the average time it takes for a student to gain a license to practice as an architect. Also, the program they offer has a strong interest in the relationship between students, professional practices and non-profit organizations. Criticism, however, has come from the student body. There is concern regarding the increase in working hours per week due to the shorter length of the program, while maintaining the same skill level as those in longer programs.

How long do you think it should take to become a qualified architect? Also, should the new scheme be put into action or delayed to find an alternative?

Credits: Images by James Foskett and linked to sources. Data linked to sources.

James Foskett

James Foskett is currently in his last year of Architecture undergraduate study at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland. Born in Devon, England, he has always had a passion for the Built Environment and therefore is planning on finishing his Architectural education by doing an MArch and possibly a Phd. Inspired by travel, his main interests are contextual designs that contribute greatly to the people that use them. From an Environmental Science background, he is also interested in sustainability and the effects of the life cycle of a building upon it's surroundings.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 at 9:36 am and is filed under Architecture, Education and Careers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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