Hugh Simpson, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Architects Registration Board, said:
“The independent report published following an investigation relating to culture, educational practices and environment at the Bartlett School of Architecture is deeply concerning. Everyone has a right to feel safe and be treated with respect by their tutors, colleagues and employers. We have written to the Bartlett to seek an urgent meeting so we can be assured that necessary changes to culture will be made. We will also wish to discuss with them whether any of our regulatory requirements in relation to accreditation of courses have been breached, as well as the need for any architects employed by UCL to meet the Code of Conduct and Practice at all times.”
As the professional regulator, ARB is responsible for setting the standards for registration as an architect. It sets the standards of conduct and practice the profession must meet and take action when any architect falls below the required standards of conduct or competence. It sets requirements in the form of Criteria and processes that institutions teaching architecture must meet in order for their students to qualify and register as architects.
Where there are specific allegations against named individuals on the Register of Architects, ARB will consider disciplinary action. Details about how to submit a formal complaint are available on ARB’s website at complaints.arb.org.uk/. The Architects Code of Conduct and Practice includes an expectation that architects will report breaches of the Code to ARB. ARB has therefore written to the Bartlett to invite them to share any relevant information following the Environmental Investigation.
ARB’s regulatory requirements include the need for institutions to have appropriate mechanisms in place to ensure compliance with the duties relating to equality and diversity placed on the institution by equality legislation. ARB has therefore written to the Bartlett to request assurances about the teaching of the current courses it prescribes. Ultimately, ARB needs to be assured that students gaining qualifications from the Bartlett are adequately educated to be able to join the Register of Architects.
Hugh Simpson commented, “In the longer term, as the Bartlett itself has acknowledged, cultural change is needed. Professionalism and ethics need to be a fundamental part of our new regulatory framework for education, with clear standards for educational and training institutions as a requirement of accreditation.
Many of the issues raised in the Bartlett’s independent report go beyond culture in architectural education and training to much wider questions about professionalism and culture in the sector as a whole. Not only will professionalism and ethics sit at the heart of our review of education and training, but they will also be central to our policy development for CPD and the review of the Code of Conduct and Practice which will begin later this year.”
Notes for Editors
- ARB is an independent professional regulator, established by Parliament as a statutory body, through the Architects Act, in 1997. It is accountable to government. The law gives ARB a number of core functions:
- To ensure only those who are suitably competent are allowed to practise as architects. ARB does this by approving the qualifications required to join the UK Register of Architects.
- To maintain a publicly available Register of Architects so anyone using the services of an architect can be confident that they are suitably qualified and are fit to practise.
- To set the standards of conduct and practice the profession must meet and take action when any architect falls below the required standards of conduct or competence.
- To protect the legally restricted title ‘architect’.
- As a regulator, ARB’s powers are very specific: we can choose to prescribe (as in, formally recognise) an institution’s qualifications so that those gaining the qualifications can become architects, or withdraw prescription. To withdraw a prescription from an institution would mean that its students would not gain qualifications that would count towards registration as an architect.
- The publication of the report on the Environmental Investigation, which was sent to ARB by the Dean of the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, UCL, has triggered ARB’s Cause for Concern process.
- The report reveals concerning assessments that indicate that the Bartlett may fail to meet ARB’s regulatory requirements, which include the need for institutions to have appropriate mechanisms in place to ensure compliance with the duties relating to equality and diversity placed on the institution by equality legislation. The report suggests that complaints handling, grievances and wellbeing processes at the Bartlett were ineffective (paragraph 103). The report also details disturbing examples of discrimination, bullying, and a culture of favouritism and fear (paragraphs 94 and 95).
- ARB has therefore written to the Bartlett to request a meeting, to inquire whether its regulatory requirements are met.
- ARB is currently reviewing the way in which it regulates architectural education and training, and recently ran a survey on its proposals for change. Some of the testimonials in the report on the Bartlett echo experiences that survey respondents have chosen to share with ARB, detailed in the analysis report.