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Consultation on ARB’s Prescribed Exam Procedures – 2019-04

Opening date: Monday 16 December 2019

Closing date: Monday 13 January 2020


The Architects Registration Board was established by Parliament in 1997 to regulate the architects’ profession in the UK.  We are an independent public interest body, and our work in regulating architects ensures that good standards within the profession are consistently maintained for the benefit of the public and architects alike.

Background to consultation

The Architects Registration Board has agreed to hold a consultation exercise following its proposals to amend the Exam Procedures, which underpin the Prescribed Examination. Further information about the Prescribed Examination can be found here.  The consultation will comply with ARB’s Code of Practice for consultations which can be found via menu to the right. Whilst the consultation period is four weeks as opposed to three months, this will allow for the Board to make a decision as to whether to update the procedures at its meeting on 27 January 2020, and ensure that the Prescribed Examination can operate effectively from the first exam sessions in 2020 (scheduled to take place in February 2020). We are open to feedback on the process at any time and have collated the outcomes of the pre-consultation exercise to form part of our research into what makes a competent architect, due to commence in 2020.

Purpose of consultation

Before deciding on any course of action, it is important that we have as wide a range of views as possible. The Prescribed Examination is the method by which we enact Section 4(1)(b) and 4(2) of the Architects Act 1997 (the Act):

(1)A person who has applied to the Registrar in the prescribed manner for registration in pursuance of this section is entitled to be registered [in Part 1 of the Register] if—

 (a)he holds such qualifications and has gained such practical experience as may be prescribed; or
 (b)he has a standard of competence which, in the opinion of the Board, is equivalent to that demonstrated by satisfying paragraph (a).

 (2)The Board may require a person who applies for registration on the ground that he satisfies subsection (1)(b) to pass a prescribed examination in architecture.

This section of the Act has the purpose of establishing whether an individual with a non-prescribed qualification should have their qualification treated as equivalent to an ARB prescribed qualification for the purposes of Registration.

Following changes to the Architects Act 1997 and the Board’s General Rules, it has been necessary to amend the Exam Procedures to ensure they remain operable. In summary, the proposed changes include:

  • A switch from the process being overseen by the Prescription Committee to the Board. Independent Examiner reports will now be considered by the Registrar who will report to the Board at least annually and by exception if any issues arise that need immediate attention;
  • Appeals being addressed to the Chair of the Board rather than the Chair of the Prescription Committee, with an appeals panel consisting of two Board members rather than three;
  • Reference to appointed and elected Board members removed;
  • Removal of the area of guidance which states that the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) can nominate persons to the Board for appointment. In reality, this has not happened for many years and we have operated on the basis of an open recruitment exercise for all recent campaigns. As such, we propose removing this requirement from the procedures though will still ensure RIBA are informed of recruitment exercises and encouraged to share with members; and
  • An advisory limit of 60-80 pages of A3 (or equivalent) to portfolio submissions (excluding any bound written materials). This will form part of ARB’s guidelines around submissions rather than forming part of the new procedures.

Consultation Documents

Track changed version of Prescribed Exam Procedures (PDF)
Clean copy of proposed amended Prescribed Exam Procedures (PDF)

Consultation response form (Word)
Consultation response form (PDF)

Equality and Diversity monitoring form (PDF)