I was quite amazed to read that some architectural firms in this country are so arrogant about their own status that they expect students to work for free ("Exploited youth", 10 March).
If students knew what their placement was going to be like before applying, I am sure many would choose an alternative. The RIBA must make employers show what they have planned for students, and follow the rest of the world in benchmarking and feedback. Employers should then be put in a league table.
I know a young guy of 25 who is working for a tiny architecture practice in Gateshead. He hasn't even completed his Part I, but he is on fair pay and has the opportunity to be really involved with designs and clients, as do the two other students within his company. Two of the students study one day a week at Leeds Metropolitan University, which is the closest university that offers part-time architecture courses.
In professions such as accountancy and marketing, taking professional exams while working is normal, but apparently in architecture you get paid for a year (pittance or not) and then give all that up to go back to university for a year and so on. It doesn't make sense.
When a company is really doing something good for the industry, they get no assistance. Small companies that help students and don't just treat them like pond scum need recognition.
Michelle Nesbitt, Clugston Group