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ARB announces fundamental reforms to architectural education

October 7, 2021 | News Release

The Architects Registration Board (ARB) has set out a new vision for the way that future architects are educated and trained which, if approved, could be the most significant changes to architectural education and training in 50 years.

ARB is the professional regulator responsible for setting the standards for registration as an architect. ARB currently fulfils this role by setting Criteria and processes that institutions teaching architecture must meet in order for their students to qualify and register as architects.

However, ARB’s evidence suggests that the existing educational model of Parts 1, 2 and 3 is inflexible and needs modernising to address key challenges facing the sector. The current system has produced thousands of excellent architects, but it’s also created significant barriers to some people becoming architects at all. The cost of education and the requirements for work experience can create barriers for people from less affluent backgrounds or without existing networks in the profession.

ARB’s aim is to help develop a profession that reflects society. New routes to becoming an architect must be developed if the UK is to have an inclusive profession.

ARB is proposing to replace the current Criteria with a new set of learning outcomes, underpinned by clear educational standards. Instead of setting the topics that architecture students must be taught, ARB will set the competencies an individual must be able to demonstrate at the end of their education and training.

The most important factor will be what a newly qualified architect should be able to do – not how they got there. ARB wants to enable institutions to innovate and use their expertise, within a quality assured system, so that architects of the future are able to take on new leadership roles, help address the climate emergency and build a culture of safety and professionalism.

ARB has published its vision for modernising architectural education and training in a paper and is inviting architects, academics, employers, students and all other interested parties to share their views through a survey.

Hugh Simpson, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Architects Registration Board, said:
“Architects have a crucial role to play if we, as a society, are to rise the challenge of climate change, enable social mobility and promote a culture of safety within the construction industry. Feedback from the sector is that reform of initial education and training is needed to address these challenges.

“The journey to becoming an architect needs to be more inclusive so that the profession can become more diverse and reflective of society. This means we have to make our regulatory framework more flexible to encourage new, different and cheaper routes to becoming an architect.

“Given the scale of change we are proposing, it is important we take the time to get them right, but in future years we don’t want to look at the Register and see the lack of representation that we see today.

“We want as many people as possible to complete our survey to help shape our reforms. I’m particularly interested in the views of architecture academics and students, so I’m keen that they look at our vision for the reforms and tell us whether it’s on the right track.”

Wendy Colvin, Architect and Senior Lecturer, and Chair of APSA (Association of Professional Studies in Architecture), said:
“A review of routes to registration has been discussed for many years and, given the context of current events, the timing of this seems entirely appropriate. This is a necessary and proactive move that ARB is making to potentially and fundamentally review the requirements for registration as an architect. The outcome of this review could improve access to the Register, whilst strengthening the accountability of the process. APSA encourages anyone interested in the future of this profession to get involved and to not miss this opportunity to engage with the process.”

Visit arb.org.uk/consultations to find out more and take the survey. The survey will close on Monday 10 January 2022 at midday.

ARB will also be running a series of events on the review. To stay informed about further opportunities to shape ARB’s work, and to receive an invitation to the events, architects can join ARB’s Architects Engagement Group here.


Notes for Editors

• The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest. By law, an individual must be registered with ARB if they are to use the title ‘architect’ in the UK. There are currently some 43,500 registered architects

• Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:
– Maintain the Architects Register
– Set the education and training requirements for architects, by recognising the qualifications necessary for joining the Register
– Ensure only appropriately qualified applicants from the UK and overseas join the Register
– Set and enforce the professional standards expected of UK architects
– Take action against those who call themselves an architect illegally.

• ARB has set out the following vision for the successful reform of architectural training and education:
1. PUBLIC: Ensure that anyone joining the Register is equipped to design a built environment that reflects the needs of society so that people can be safe and live well, and helps to tackle the fundamental challenges our planet faces
2. PROFESSION AND EMPLOYERS: Provide future architects with skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours that they can develop and apply throughout their career
3. INSTITUTIONS: Allow for flexibility and innovation by bodies that provide education and training, ensuring the UK remains an attractive place to study
4. FUTURE ARCHITECTS: Enable anyone with the right competencies to become an architect by a route that is right for them
5. REGULATORY: Through an effective and proportionate quality assurance model, give clarity about the accountability of ARB, the institutions, and students