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Transition of Prescribed Qualifications to Accreditation

This section of the Handbook covers the principles and process for the transition of prescribed qualifications from the outgoing Criteria and prescription model to the new Standards and Competency Outcomes for Architects (the Outcomes).

 

The new Standards for Learning Providers (the Standards) apply to all providers and qualifications from January 2024.

Under ARB’s new initial education and training model, three types of qualifications can be accredited to deliver the Outcomes:

  1. ‘Master’s-level’ qualifications – to FHEQ Level 7/SCQF Level 111 – that will encompass the Academic Outcomes
  2. ‘Practice’ qualifications that will encompass the Practice Outcomes (the Academic Outcomes must be achieved before the Practice Outcomes)
  3. ‘Combined’ qualifications that will encompass both Academic and Practice Outcomes

See also the eligibility information in the Standards for Learning Providers section of the Handbook.


1
Framework for Higher Education Qualification (FHEQ); Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).

Part 1 qualifications

Qualifications to bachelor’s degree-level only (to FHEQ Level 6 or below/SCQF Level 10 or below) will not be eligible for accreditation.

Part 1 qualifications will remain accredited until the end of December 2027 – subject to light touch monitoring – unless the provider chooses to withdraw accreditation from their Part 1(s) sooner.  After December 2027, providers may choose to continue to deliver these qualifications, but they will no longer be accredited or subject to monitoring by ARB.

See also 5.7 below.

Part 2 and Part 3 qualifications

In order to retain accreditation of prescribed qualifications (qualifications that deliver the outgoing Criteria) beyond 31 December 2028, providers will need to revise those qualifications to deliver the Outcomes2 and comply with the Standards.

There are two routes for this, and which route ARB decides will be relevant for an individual qualification will depend on the nature and extent of the proposed changes.

Proposed changes

Like-for-like changes, e.g.

  • A two-year Part 2 being changed to a two-year master’s-level qualification
  • A one-year Part 3 being changed to a one-year practice qualification
Route

A staggered transition over two to three years through a combination of a transition change application and evidence in respect of Standards 3-6 submitted alongside forthcoming annual monitoring returns.

See the transition route summary below.

Other changes, e.g.

  • Change to duration (introduction of a four-/five-year master’s-level; merging two prescribed qualifications)
  • Introduction of a dual award where a single award qualification was previously accredited
  • Introduction of master’s-level or practice qualifications where Part 2 and/or Part 3 were not previously accredited
  • Introduction of new qualifications in addition to any being considered through the transition change process

New qualification application in which the provider must demonstrate that all the Standards (including the Outcomes) can be met.

Please refer to the Accreditation Process for New Qualifications for details and timeline.

The above are principles for guidance and are not exhaustive.  

ARB expects the learning outcomes of all qualifications to change to deliver the new Outcomes and remain accredited.  Even if a provider’s internal processes suggest a major course change, this may not mean that ARB requires a new qualification application to be submitted.

A pragmatic view will be taken of the nature of proposed changes to each qualification and whether they can be considered under the transition route or the new qualification application route.

Any changes to qualifications must be approved by ARB before they are implemented.

Providers should contact ARB as early as possible to discuss any planned changes and the most appropriate application process(es) in advance of internal approval and any submission to ARB.  See the initial enquiry information below.

Providers that no longer want their qualification(s) to be accredited can either withdraw from accreditation sooner or maintain accreditation until the end of the current period of prescription (31 December 2028 in most cases).  Providers and their qualifications must comply with the Standards and conditions until prescription/accreditation ceases (is withdrawn or expires).2

Prescription/accreditation must be in place at the point of graduation for students to have an accredited qualification eligible for the purpose of registration.  Certificates awarded after the date that prescription/accreditation ceases will not be accredited awards, even if prescription/accreditation was in place when a student started a qualification. 

Please refer to the Accreditation Changes section about planned changes to prescribed qualifications that are not related to the implementation of the new Outcomes.


2
During the ‘transition period’ – from January 2024 until the new Outcomes have been implemented or prescription ceases – references to ‘Outcomes’ in the Standards and elsewhere also include the outgoing Criteria (Parts 1 and 2 General Criteria and Graduate Attributes, and the Part 3 Professional Criteria).

Initial enquiry

Providers are invited to make early contact with ARB to discuss any planned changes before they undergo internal approval, and to receive guidance as to whether such changes should be put forward as a transition change application or a new qualification application.

Please direct initial enquiries to Qualifications@arb.org.uk. 

In order for ARB to determine the route through which the qualification changes could be considered, the provider must specify:

  • Which qualification(s) it intends to change (title and Part)
  • The type of qualification the provider intends it to become (master’s-level, practice or combined – see above)
  • A brief summary of the proposed changes (title, duration, structure, modules etc) – this can be accompanied by draft documents, where available
  • The expected timeline for development, internal approval, and implementation of the changes; the stage in that process that the provider has reached; and when the provider anticipates it would be ready to submit an application (transition change or new qualification) to ARB

If necessary, ARB will request any additional/missing information required.

Once the initial enquiry has been reviewed, ARB will advise the provider whether – on the basis of the information supplied to date – the changes must be submitted as a new qualification application or can be considered through the transition route. 

ARB reserves the right to subsequently reject a transition change application where the proposed changes differ to or are more significant than those indicated by the provider in the initial enquiry.  In such cases, the provider will be required to submit a new qualification application instead.

Transition route summary

Through the transition route, compliance with the new Standards and requirements will be demonstrated over a two-to-three-year period via a combination of three submissions.   

The following is a guide – providers may be required to submit material relating to particular Standards sooner or at other times, where necessary.

  • A transition change application covering the proposed qualification changes, compliance with Standard 1 (Educational Content) and Standard 2 (Assessments), and some material relating to other Standards that is relevant to the qualification changes.  Any changes to qualifications must be approved by ARB before they are implemented.
  • Evidence of compliance with Standard 3 (Governance and Leadership) and Standard 6 (Student Support) submitted at the same time as the 2025 annual monitoring.
  • Evidence of compliance with Standard 4 (Human Resources) and Standard 5 (Teaching and Learning Resources) submitted at the same time as the 2026 annual monitoring.

The transition change application can be submitted when the provider is ready to do so – this does not have to be before the 2025 annual monitoring.3

The Accreditation Committee is responsible for making decisions about accreditation, and each of the three submissions must be approved by the Accreditation Committee.

Under normal circumstances, it is anticipated that it will take approximately nine months (from the time of the application submission) for a transition change application to be considered and for the Accreditation Committee to reach a decision in respect of the proposed qualification changes.  However, some applications may take longer.  

ARB will notify providers of the information and evidence that must be sent with the 2025 and 2026 annual monitoring prior to the due dates.  However, providers will be expected to have familiarised themselves with the Standards and the evidence that will be required in respect of each well in advance.  

Please note that a qualification being prescribed under the previous process and requirements does not guarantee ongoing accreditation.  Accreditation will be dependent on the provider demonstrating compliance with all the new Standards and requirements through the combination of the three submissions outlined above.  Doing so by 31 December 2028 will avoid a gap in accreditation.  

The status of any application or qualification and the Accreditation Committee’s decisions will typically be published on ARB’s website.


3
Following the consultation on education and training reforms, ARB launched an independent Commission on Professional Practical Experience that is expected to conclude late 2024/early 2025.  Providers are advised to wait until the outcomes of the Commission and resultant implications for practice qualifications are known before seeking ARB approval of proposed changes or new qualifications at this level.  Providers should contact ARB to discuss proposed changes to their Part 3 qualification(s).

1: Transition change application submission

1.0

Following an initial enquiry and when ready to do so, the provider will make a transition change application. This will cover the proposed qualification changes to deliver the new Outcomes, and compliance with Standards and measures relevant to those changes.

This application should be submitted after the revised programme has been internally approved (any conditions of internal approval that have not yet been fulfilled should be identified, and a timeline for their completion included).

 

1.1

The application submission will consist of the following:

  1. A completed transition change application form – download to follow
  2. All evidence required in respect of Standards 1 and 2 for the revised qualification
  3. Details of admissions requirements and (if it will be permitted) direct entry policy and procedure (Standard 3.5) for the revised qualification
  4. Impact on staffing – projected staff numbers, student numbers and SSR for the first five years of delivery of the revised programme – and resources

 

1.2

The application must be submitted electronically – to Qualifications@arb.org.uk – with all documents sent together in one consignment. Each individual document within the submission must be under 20MB in size and can be in its original format (documents do not need to be converted into a single particular format, such as PDFs).

ARB will check and acknowledge receipt of the submission. Once received, the provider cannot amend or add to the application unless permitted by ARB, or further explanations and/or material are requested by ARB.

 

1.3   Application scrutiny

1.3.1 The application will be scrutinised against the relevant Standards and measures by a Panel convened by ARB that will consist of two members of the Executive and one or more Visitor(s). The Panel will meet to discuss the application and identify any areas of risk and/or requiring explanation.

 

1.3.2

There will be three possible outcomes of a Panel meeting at this stage:

  1. No explanations required
  2. Explanations required
  3. Visit required

 

1.3.3 If no clarifications will be required and ARB has determined the recommendation that will be made about the application, it will be scheduled for Accreditation Committee consideration and decision (see 2 below).

 

1.3.4

Where relevant, the provider will be notified in writing of any explanations and/or additional material required, and the deadline for submission.

The provider will typically be given two weeks to respond, though the time given may vary (shorter or longer) depending on the circumstances.

 

1.3.4.1 Following consideration of its response, the provider will be notified in writing if further clarifications or a visit will be required (in accordance with 1.3.4 or 1.3.5-1.3.5.7).
1.3.4.2 Once ARB is satisfied that no further explanations are required and has determined the recommendation that will be made about the application, it will be put forward to the Accreditation Committee for consideration and decision (see 2 below).

 

1.3.5

Where necessary, ARB may require a visit to discuss matters needing clarification and/or points of concern arising from the application.

Visits may be in-person (on the provider’s premises) or virtual (online), and most will last no more than half a day. ARB will decide the most appropriate format on a case-by-case basis and confirm this with the provider.

 

1.3.5.1

ARB will liaise with the provider to make arrangements for the visit, which should take place as soon as is practicable.

The provider will be required to supply details (names, positions/roles, email addresses and phone numbers) of its representatives for the visit – there must be more than one representative, and those in attendance must be able to answer questions about the matters to be discussed and the application overall.

Once attendees and arrangements have been confirmed, should any of the provider’s representatives be unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances, the provider must notify ARB at the earliest opportunity.

 

1.3.5.2

Prior to the visit taking place, ARB will send the provider the visit Terms of Reference. This will be accompanied by an outline of the topics to be explored (other matters not listed may also be raised, e.g. if prompted by discussions during the visit) and any additional documents or materials that the provider must make available for the visit (if relevant; in which case, the deadline for the electronic submission of these will be given).

 

1.3.5.3 Regardless of the format/location, the visit will be chaired by ARB.
1.3.5.4 For virtual visits, ARB will circulate a meeting link to the attendees.
1.3.5.5

For in-person visits, the provider will be required to reserve a meeting room large enough to accommodate ARB’s Panel plus the provider’s representatives.

The meeting room must be available to the Panel for the hour before and the hour after the scheduled visit times.

The meeting room must be equipped with power sockets and access details for the provider’s wifi network. The provider will be expected to arrange tea, coffee, and water for the visit, but will not be required to provide food for the Panel.

 

1.3.5.6 Within a week of the visit taking place, ARB will request in writing any follow-up material from the provider and specify the date by which it must be submitted.
1.3.5.7 When ARB is satisfied that no further explanations are required, the application will be scheduled for Accreditation Committee consideration and decision (see 2 below).

2: Transition change application decision

2.0 ARB will prepare a report summarising the overall assessment of the transition change application and setting out the recommendations for the Accreditation Committee.

 

2.1

The provider will be notified.

Where it will be recommended that the Committee should not approve the qualification changes or that the Committee should approve the qualification changes with one or more additional conditions attached, the provider will receive a copy of the report and have the opportunity to submit written representations in respect of the contents before these are presented to the Committee.

 

2.2

The application report and recommendations, along with any comments/representations from the provider will be submitted to the Accreditation Committee for consideration. The Committee will have access to all the application documentation as well.

In some cases, the Committee may require the Executive to obtain further information from the provider before making a decision.

 

2.3

The Committee may:

  1. Decide to approve the qualification changes in line with ARB’s recommendations
  2. Be minded to approve the qualification changes differently to ARB’s recommendations
  3. Decide to reject the application and not approve the qualification changes

 

2.4

If the Committee decides to approve the qualification changes in line with ARB’s recommendations, the provider will be notified in writing.

Accreditation will be dependent on the provider also demonstrating compliance with Standards 3 to 6 (see 3 below), and subject to conditions (see 4 below).

 

2.5

If the Committee is minded to approve the qualification changes differently by attaching additional conditions not included in the original recommendations, the provider will be notified and have a further opportunity to submit written representations before the Committee makes its decision.

 

2.5.1

The Committee will consider any representations from the provider and make its decision.

 

2.5.2

Where the Committee decides to approve the qualification changes, the provider will be notified in writing.

Accreditation will be dependent on the provider also demonstrating compliance with Standards 3 to 6 (see 3 below), and subject to conditions (see 4 below).

 

2.6

Should the Committee decide not to approve qualification changes, the provider will be notified in writing with reason(s). Advice will not be given to the provider on any remedial or other action that could or should be taken.

 

2.6.1

If the provider chooses to submit a new transition change application, ARB will expect the reason(s) for the original rejection to have been addressed in the new application.

 

2.6.2

Ongoing accreditation will be dependent on the provider demonstrating compliance with all the new Standards and requirements through the combination of the three transition route submissions, and by the end of the current period of prescription to avoid a gap in accreditation.

If one or more of these submissions will not have been approved by this time, ARB will determine the approach to be taken on a case-by-case basis and instruct the provider accordingly.

 

2.7 The Accreditation Committee’s decision to approve (including the conditions applicable) or to reject any qualification changes and Standards submissions will be final. There will be no appeal.

 

3: 2025 and 2026 submissions

3.0

As well as a transition change application – in which changes to a prescribed qualification to deliver the new Outcomes and evidence relating to Standards 1 and 2 will be considered – providers will be required to show that they can meet Standards 3 to 6 in order for their qualification to remain accredited.

Accreditation will be dependent on compliance with all of ARB’s Standards and requirements.

 

3.1

As a guide, providers will be required to submit evidence in respect of Standard 3 (Governance and Leadership) and Standard 6 (Student Support) at the same time as their 2025 annual monitoring return; and in respect of Standard 4 (Human Resources) and Standard 5 (Teaching and Learning Resources) alongside their 2026 annual monitoring submission.

Providers may be required to submit material relating to particular Standards sooner or at other times, where necessary.

These submissions will be made at the same time as annual monitoring but will be considered separately to annual monitoring. See the Annual Monitoring section of the Handbook for information about that process.

ARB will notify providers of the information and evidence that must be sent with the 2025 and 2026 annual monitoring prior to the due dates. However, providers will be expected to have familiarised themselves with the Standards and the evidence that will be required in respect of each well in advance.

 

3.2   ARB will check and acknowledge receipt of each submission.

 

3.3 The material will be scrutinised against the relevant Standards, and any areas of risk and/or requiring explanation will be identified.

 

3.4

Where relevant, the provider will be notified in writing of any explanations and/or additional material required, and the deadline for submission.

The provider will typically be given two weeks to respond, though the time given may vary (shorter or longer) depending on the circumstances.

Should a visit be necessary, this will be arranged and undertaken in accordance with 1.3.5-1.3.5.7 above.

 

3.5 When ARB is satisfied that no (further) explanations are required, the submission will be scheduled for Accreditation Committee consideration and decision.

 

3.6 Accreditation Committee

3.6.1 ARB will prepare a report summarising the overall assessment of the provider’s compliance with the relevant Standards and setting out the recommendations for the Accreditation Committee.

 

3.6.2

The provider will be notified.

Where it will be recommended that the provider has not demonstrated compliance with the relevant Standards or that the Committee should approve the submission with one or more additional conditions attached, the provider will receive a copy of the report and have the opportunity to submit written representations in respect of the contents before these are presented to the Committee.

 

3.6.3 The report and recommendations, along with any comments/representations from the provider will be submitted to the Accreditation Committee for consideration.  The Committee will have access to all of the submission documentation as well.

 

3.6.4

  The Committee may:

  1. Decide to approve the submission in line with ARB’s recommendations
  2. Be minded to approve the submission differently to ARB’s recommendations 
  3. Decide not to approve the submission

 

3.6.5 If the Committee decides to approve the submission in line with ARB’s recommendations, the provider will be notified in writing. 

 

3.6.6

If the Committee is minded to approve the submission differently by attaching additional conditions not included in the original recommendations, the provider will be notified and have a further opportunity to submit written representations before the Committee makes its decision.

3.6.6.1   The Committee will consider any representations from the provider and make its decision.

 

3.6.6.2 Where the Committee decides to approve the submission, the provider will be notified in writing.

 

3.6.7

Should the Committee decide not to approve the submission in respect of one or both Standards, the provider will be notified in writing with reason(s).  Advice will not be given to the provider on any remedial or other action that could or should be taken.

3.6.7.1 The provider will be required to submit evidence in respect of the Standard(s) not approved alongside annual monitoring the following year, and ARB will expect the reason(s) for the original rejection to have been addressed.

 

3.6.7.2

Ongoing accreditation will be dependent on the provider demonstrating compliance with all the new Standards and requirements through the combination of the three transition route submissions, and by the end of the current period of prescription to avoid a gap in accreditation.

If one or more of these submissions will not have been approved by this time, ARB will determine the approach to be taken on a case-by-case basis and instruct the provider accordingly.

 

 

3.6.8 The Accreditation Committee’s decision to approve (including the conditions applicable) or to reject any submissions will be final.  There will be no appeal.

 

4: Conditions of accreditation

4.0

If satisfied that the provider has demonstrated compliance with ARB’s Standards and requirements, the Accreditation Committee will accredit the qualification and determine the conditions that will be applicable to it.

All accredited qualifications will be subject to the Standard Conditions.

Where it deems appropriate, the Committee may vary any of the Standard Conditions and/or make a qualification subject to additional conditions.

 

4.1

The Standard Conditions are as follows:

 

  1. Accreditation will commence on the date decided by the Accreditation Committee and continue until accreditation is withdrawn by ARB or at the request of the provider. 
  1. Accreditation of a qualification will be by reference to the submitted programme specification (or equivalent) and award certificate.  No change may be made to the title of any qualification or to the content (allowing for normal course development) without the permission of ARB.  Approval must be sought via the accreditation change procedures determined by ARB.
  1. Accreditation will be dependent on continued compliance with ARB’s requirements and Standards for Learning Providers and ARB’s review processes.
  1. Annually and by a date approved by ARB, the provider will be required to submit information specified by ARB to enable the Accreditation Committee to see that:
    i. ARB’s Competency Outcomes have been met by all graduates
    ii. ARB’s requirements and Standards for Learning Providers continue to be met
    iii. All conditions of accreditation continue to be met
  1. Following each and every set of examinations, the provider will be required to submit to ARB its pass lists of graduates who have received the accredited qualification and a copy of the certificate awarded.
  1. Where it deems appropriate, the Accreditation Committee may vary any of the Standard Conditions, make accreditation of a qualification subject to other conditions, and/or require additional information to that submitted for ARB’s review processes.
  1. Where it considers that any condition may not or has not been met, ARB may take any action it deems necessary up to and including revocation of accreditation.

 

4.2 During the ‘transition period’ – from January 2024 until the new Outcomes have been implemented or prescription ceases – references to ‘Outcomes’ in the Standards for Learning Providers, the Standard Conditions and elsewhere also include the outgoing Criteria (General Criteria, Graduate Attributes and Professional Criteria) applicable to Parts 1, 2 and 3 qualifications.

 

5: Transition process Q&A

5.0 If you have any queries regarding the transition process, please review the following in the first instance.  Should your query/queries not be addressed, please email the Accreditation Team (Qualifications@arb.org.uk). 

 

5.1

We have a prescribed qualification but don’t intend to change it to the new Outcomes or continue with accreditation after prescription ceases at the end of 2028 – will we still have to send evidence of compliance with the Standards with annual monitoring?  

Yes.  The new Standards for Learning Providers (the Standards) apply to all providers and qualifications from January 2024.  Providers and their prescribed qualifications must comply with the Standards and the qualifications must continue to deliver the relevant Criteria until the current period of prescription ceases (unless withdrawn sooner).

Therefore, providers wanting to retain prescription in the meantime will be required to submit evidence of compliance with the Standards alongside annual monitoring in 2025 and 2026.

N.B. During the ‘transition period’ – from January 2024 until the new Outcomes have been implemented or prescription ceases – references to ‘Outcomes’ in the Standards and elsewhere also include the outgoing Criteria (Parts 1 and 2 General Criteria and Graduate Attributes, and the Part 3 Professional Criteria).

 

5.2

We have a prescribed qualification that we want to keep as it is and instead introduce a new qualification to deliver the new Outcomes – is this possible?

Yes.  You will need to submit an application for accreditation of the new qualification – see the Accreditation Process for New Qualifications section of the Handbook.

If you wish to retain prescription of the existing qualification until the current period of prescription ceases, this will continue to be subject to annual monitoring and review and compliance with the Standards must be demonstrated and maintained until that expiry date.

 

5.3

Do we have to submit a transition change application before the 2025 annual monitoring, or wait until after the 2026 annual monitoring? 

No.  Providers can submit a transition change application before the 2025 annual monitoring, between the 2025 and 2026 annual monitoring, or after the 2026 annual monitoring.

Once ARB has advised that the qualification can be considered under the transition change process (see the initial enquiry information above), you can submit the transition change application at the point at which you are ready to do so – that is, when the material required for the application submission is ready and the revised programme has been internally approved. 

Any changes to prescribed/accredited qualifications must be approved by ARB before they are implemented, and any transition change application must be approved before 31 December 2028 to avoid a gap in accreditation.

 

5.4

Previously, qualifications had to be prescribed by the time of graduation.  Is that the same in the new accreditation process and will we need to plan to make changes to our qualification in time for the first students to graduate before the end of 2028?

Under the new processes, new qualifications must have been accredited before they commence and any changes to prescribed/accredited qualifications must be approved by ARB before those changes are implemented (i.e. before students start the new qualification or revised programme or elements).

If you plan to change a prescribed qualification to deliver the new Outcomes, those changes must be approved by ARB before students start or move onto the revised programme.  In addition, those changes must be approved by ARB before the current period of prescription ends in order to avoid a gap in accreditation.

It remains the case that a qualification must also be accredited at the time of graduation for that qualification to be eligible for the purpose of registration.    

Therefore, if you have a prescribed qualification that you do not intend to change, please note that only certificates issued before the date that prescription/accreditation ends will be accredited awards.  Any students that graduate and receive their certificate after that date will not have a prescribed/accredited award, even if prescription was in place when they started the qualification.

 

5.5

We want to change our existing Part 2 to deliver the new Outcomes.  The revised qualification would be similar to the existing, but we want to change the title to distinguish between the current and new programmes.  What sort of application should we submit?

If the revised qualification will be in keeping with the structure and duration of the existing programme, it is likely this would be eligible for consideration under the transition change process.  However, you should contact ARB to discuss the proposed changes before submitting an application (see the initial enquiry information above).

 

5.6

Do we have to submit all the materials and documents for an application as a single, combined document?

No.  Documents do not need to be merged but must be submitted together.  Each individual document must be under 20MB in size and clearly labelled.

 

5.7

Once prescription of Parts 1, 2 and 3 qualifications ceases, does that mean that graduates won’t be able to use them to join the Register?

Students/graduates of the outgoing qualifications will still be able to apply to join the Register as long as they have all three Parts (and have satisfied the practical experience requirements) and each of those qualifications were prescribed by ARB at the time they were awarded.

Students/graduates of the new qualifications will be able to apply to join the Register if they have accredited master’s-level and practice qualifications (or an accredited combined qualification) and have completed the required practical experience.  In this case, if an individual also has a prescribed Part 1 this will not be required as part of an application to join the Register.