University of Central England closes BA architecture course to new students until investigation is complete

The president-elect of the RIBA, Jack Pringle, has spoken of his “surprise and shock” over the poor architecture exam results at the University of Central England.

The university, which is based in Birmingham, announced last week that 56 of the 60 final-year students on the BA course had failed to obtain a degree – a 93% failure rate.

Pringle welcomed the decision by the university not to accept any more undergraduates on the course, which is validated by the RIBA, in September while an investigation is undertaken.

He said: “I think it is quite a prudent reaction as now the staff can focus on helping those who failed this year to prepare for their resits. Also, it gives the university time to look at the situation before any new people come in.”

Pringle said the RIBA monitors all the institutes that they validate and had not expected any problems at UCE. He said: “There is nothing in the least approximate to this – 20% used to be considered a big failure there. Our concerns are that students are looked after and that the courses we validate are good.”

The course, which is also accredited by the Architects Registration Board, is being investigated by the UCE senate, which hopes the university will be able to accept fresh undergraduates on the architecture course in September next year.

Now staff can focus on helping those who failed prepare for their resits

Jack Pringle, RIBA president-elect

A RIBA review of the course is due in June next year. Pringle says he will not be rushed into any decisions until the two reports are complete.

He said: “We appreciate it is a very difficult time for students. Initial investigations indicate there is no single big problem and the RIBA has not received any complaints from students about the UCE course.”

However, Alex MacLaren, co-chair of Archaos, the national body for student architects, said: “It seems students were told that they were doing well and now they have failed. Many have complained about understaffing and lack of feedback.”

Architecture students at UCE who have just completed their first and second years are not affected by the decision not to accept freshers and will continue with their courses.