Budding architects face rebuilt course

September 12, 1997

A shake-up of architecture education and training is urgently needed to meet the demands of the 21st century, according to Chris Colbourne, director of education at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

RIBA's education policy is under review and Mr Colbourne says there are strong arguments in favour of architecture courses being restructured.

Students embarking on a seven-year architecture course normally study three years to achieve Part 1, followed by a practical year. This is followed by a two-year course leading to a Part 2 qualification, finishing with another practical year which includes examinations.

"The most common criticism of our Part 1 and 2 programmes is that there is little difference between a good Part 1 graduate and a competent Part 2 graduate," says Mr Colbourne.

To provide greater focus to the two programmes, he believes the merits of a broadly based bachelor degree followed by a more specialist Part 2 course should be considered.

Part 2 would be a masters in architecture, with a design focus for those committed to entering the profession, and research and other pathways for those who do not necessarily want to practise as architects.

He says that only about a third of those entering an architecture course actually complete the full seven-year programme.

Statistics also suggest that only about a half of those students in Part 2 go on to register within the profession.

Mr Colbourne says: "The majority of our students go on to do something else. So we need to ensure that Part 1 is an excellent liberal arts degree as well as a professional pathway, and that our Part 2 has within it professional skills which are transferable to a number of other different careers."

RIBA is also concerned about Part 3 which Mr Colbourne says often does not build upon the specialisation developed in Part 2.

Part 3 needs to be more closely linked to business and management skills required to respond to client needs and the management of professional businesses, he says.

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