To maintain public confidence in the profession, architects admitted to the register must have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and behaviour to practise. As the independent regulator, ARB sets the criteria that institutions teaching architecture must meet in order for their students to qualify and register as architects.
Between February and April 2021, ARB conducted a public consultation on new guidance to supplement those criteria. The guidance, which will apply to all institutions offering ARB-recognised qualifications, aims to ensure that future architects are competent to design safe and sustainable buildings.
Institutions responding to the consultation generally welcomed the guidance, though understandably some highlighted the time it would take them to make the changes necessary to comply with it. ARB appreciates what a challenge this is. From September 2021 onwards, when ARB monitors a school as part of its annual process, or considers an application for a qualification to be recognised, ARB will ask to see a plan as to how the school has implemented or will implement the guidance in their curriculum. ARB expects schools to commit to meeting its requirements in full within a reasonable time, and will require them to demonstrate their progress.
Alan Kershaw, Chair of the Architects Registration Board, said:
“Fire and life safety design and environmental sustainability are crucial topics that absolutely must form part of an architect’s education and training. We will work with institutions and give them time to put in place the necessary resources and quality assurance. But we will insist that students are taught these important topics in sufficient detail. Protection of the public and of the planet demands no less.”
ARB received 48 responses to its consultation, 15 of which were responses on behalf of organisations including schools of architecture and climate action groups. The majority (69%) of respondents agreed that ARB should begin incorporating the guidance into its prescription process from September 2021. ARB proposed to check progress of implementation through its annual monitoring process, and again the majority (85%) of respondents agreed.
Following the consultation, the Board updated the guidance and it is now being published and formally introduced. A consultation report, published alongside the guidance, summarises the responses ARB received and how ARB made changes following feedback received in the consultation. For example, in the Fire and life safety guidance ARB has strengthened the importance of collaboration as part of the architect’s role in the design team.
Later this year, ARB will launch a major public exercise to review the initial education and training of architects, and the way that ARB recognises the qualifications that enable architects to join the UK register. Some of the feedback ARB received through its consultation on the guidance published today, such as the emphasis on the importance of sustainability throughout education and training, will inform that wider review.