From zero to Arb in seven years

The RIBA has voted through the biggest shake-up to architectural education in half a century.

The Council agreed to rip up the current three-part system and lop three years off the average amount of time it takes to qualify.

The recommendations, passed after a full-day meeting of the RIBA, academics, students and architects at Portland Place yesterday, contain a number of options including reducing the amount of full-time study from five years to four, with three years’ assessed professional practical experience.

Instead of parts I, II and III, universities will offer an integrated seven-year award, though they could still award first degrees.

If schools of architecture adopt the recommendations, it could be possible for students to join the Arb register seven years after beginning their undergraduate degree. It currently takes about a decade.

The professional practice element of an architect’s training – part III – will now begin much earlier.

Students could start learning about the business side of the profession as early as the second year of their BA, rather than not until after they have graduated, said David Gloster (pictured), director of education at the RIBA.

“It’s providing significantly more opportunities for students to graduate fully qualified and it’s providing better value,” he said. “It also fulfils the promise we make to students on day one that they will emerge as qualified architects. It should make architecture more inclusive,” he added.

The next stage is to discuss implementation with the schools of architecture and the Arb, who have all been heavily involved in the RIBA’s two-year review of education.

RIBA president Stephen Hodder said: “This has been the most rigorous and collaborative review of architectural education in 50 years via an extensive consultation with architects, students, academics and clients.

“I’m delighted that we have some clear recommendations for changes to architectural education ensuring that the RIBA validated architecture course represents an assured academic benchmark. These changes will ensure that future generations are inspired to become leading architects in the UK and globally.”

The recommendations

:: A requirement for a minimum of two years of assessed professional practical experience (PPE) within, typically, a minimum seven year period of study

:: An award that combines academic study  and PPE leading to a level 7 masters degree

:: Academic credits available for one year of work based learning, with the option for students to study within a framework of four years F/T study + three years PPE

:: A 300 ECTS credit programme compliant with the requirements of Bologna agreement

:: Access to the register of architects and title of architect on successful completion of the integrated course