ARB will receive several new powers in amendments to Architects Act

The RIBA has come out in support of a decision to allow architects from abroad to work in the UK.

Yesterday, the government confirmed that a new recognition system to acknowledge architecture qualifications from around the world would be implemented as part of the Professional Qualifications Bill.

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The government said the move meant the UK would continue to attract the best architects from around the world

RIBA president Alan Jones said he welcomed the announcement.

He added: “We are pleased to see the government recognise the global standing of UK architects and commit to the recognition of international qualifications – a mechanism the RIBA has been lobbying for on behalf of our members since the referendum.

“To enable the UK profession to maintain and build its reputation as a global leader, the government must now focus on securing reciprocal agreements, to allow both the exportation and recruitment of talent.”

The government’s move came as part of its response to a consultation on proposed amendments to the Architects Act, which will ensure professional standards within the sector are maintained and enable international architects to practise in the UK.

To support this, the Architects Registration Board (ARB) will allow architects with certain international qualifications to join its UK register – meaning they can practise as an architect.

The government did not confirm which international qualifications will be recognised but said it would be up to the ARB to decide.

Chris Pincher, housing minister, said: “Following an overwhelmingly positive response to our consultation from the architecture profession, we are delighted to be moving forward with firm proposals that will make a real difference to the lives of architects around the world.

“This fundamental realignment of the profession will reassert the United Kingdom’s reputation as a global leader in architecture, ensuring we continue to attract the best architects from around the world to build back better on the homes and infrastructure in this country.”

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Under these new measures, the ARB will also be given new powers to monitor the way architects manage their continuing professional development, in line with other regulated professions – encouraging architects to develop their competence to practise.

Alan Kershaw, chair of the ARB, said the announcement confirmed the government’s intention to create new powers for the organisation, which it will use to introduce a scheme to monitor the CPD of architects.

He said: “This is an opportunity to recognise formally the considerable amount of development activity that most architects already do. We will develop our approach in collaboration with architects and use our regulatory powers to promote consistency across the profession.

“ARB’s new role in recognising international qualifications is another positive step. We are going to ensure all individuals registering under this new process are held to equivalent standards, to maintain excellence across the architectural profession, whilst also ensuring the United Kingdom continues to benefit from the varied skills and experience international architects bring with them.”

Jones added: “The RIBA has been clear that architects must have the necessary knowledge and skills to respond to the key challenges facing our society and planet – from the building safety crisis to the climate emergency. We therefore welcome government plans to drive high professional standards and we reiterate our commitment to work alongside the ARB to ensure any new competency requirements support and work for the profession.”

The government’s response to a consultation on proposed amendments to the Architects Act, which was introduced in1997, also says that it will be strengthening the ARB’s role in monitoring and maintaining the competence of architects on its register and increasing public confidence by listing disciplinary orders against an architect on the register.

The government has also said it will allow the list of chargeable services to be expanded to cover the full range of services allowed by the ARB.

The changes are part of ongoing reforms to improve the competence of professionals across the built environment sector, who have a responsibility for designing, constructing and managing homes and buildings.

The reforms build on major legislative changes being made by government in relation to fire and building safety, with wider proposals to drive up professional competence in the sector set to be implemented via the Building Safety Bill.