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Study Architecture in the United Kingdom- RIBA

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is the main professional body for architects in the United Kingdom. It is an independent body and was set up by Royal Charter in 1837. The Charter states that 'the objects of the Royal Institute are the advancement of Architecture and the promotion of the acquirement of the knowledge of the Arts and Sciences connected therewith', and gives it the power to grant 'diplomas, certificates or other forms of recognition'.

The preamble to the bestowal of the Charter refers to the fact that its promoters 'have established a correspondence with the learned and scientific men in foreign countries, for the purpose of inquiry and information upon the subject of the said art'. On this basis the RIBA has always operated in the service of Architecture internationally and customarily around 25% of its membership has been resident, outside the United Kingdom.

As a learned society, the RIBA seeks to extend the body of knowledge upon which the practice of architecture is based. Through standards of admission, the Code of Professional Conduct, the Architects Appointment and other publication of the Royal Institute seeks to assure the public of the standards of integrity and competence of its members. Amongst its many services, the RIBA produces The Journal of Architecture which covers the scholarly activities of architectural practitioners, academics and students throughout the world.

The Institute houses the British Architectural Library, which is the national architectural library in Great Britain. Its collections cover architecture of all periods and all countries. The RIBA also hosts a wide range of exhibitions and accompanying lecture series from the United Kingdom and overseas.

Membership of the RIBA is voluntary and the Institute is governed democratically' by its members. Nobody may practice under a title containing the word 'architect' in the United Kingdom, subject to a few statutory exceptions, unless their name is on the statutory register of architects. Admission to the register is the responsibility of the Architects Registration Council of the United Kingdom (ARCUnited Kingdom), which was established by an act of Parliament in 1931. About 805 of architects in the United Kingdom are members of the RIBA.

Qualifications for membership of the RIBA and registration are by and large similar, and require a minimum of seven years of higher education and training, although the EC Architect's Directive permits a lower level of requirement for registration for nationals of other member states.

Schools of Architecture in the United Kingdom

The Royal Institute began to recognise courses and examination in academic institutions in the United Kingdom for exemption from its own qualifying examinations at the beginning of the 20th century and established a formal visiting board system immediately following the first world war. Minimum qualitative standards in the schools of architecture are ensured both by the appointment of independent external examiners in each school and by visits of the RIBA Visiting Board in which ARCUnited Kingdom participates. The Visiting Board visits all recognised schools every 5 years to assess courses and examinations, standards of teaching and performance of students. The RIBA does not impose any kind of syllabus but encourages a variety of approaches and methods.

Education and Training

To enter a school of architecture you normally need at least two academic subjects at A level or one A and two AS levels. In addition you must have passed at least five GCSEs which include English language, maths and science. The RIBA recommends that students should have as broad an education as possible, covering both arts and sciences subjects. The admissions staff of the schools of architecture are able to advise students on the equatability of their school examinations.

To qualify for RIBA membership and for statutory registration a minimum of seven years of higher education and training are required. The usual pattern is 5 years in an academic institution, or institution, and 2 years of practical training, mainly undertaken in architects practices. At least one year of the practical training period must follow the last academic year. At the end of the seventh year candidates for entry to the profession are eligible to sit an examination before admission to membership of the RIBA and registration. Because recognition of qualifications is in 2 stages students are able to move between schools, usually after gaining exemption from Part I of the RIBA Examination in Architecture, following 3 years of study and examination and completion of the first year of practical training.

Links in Education and Training

Recognition of courses in what is now the Commonwealth began in the early 1920s. By the end of the 1980s examinations at 33 schools of architecture in the Commonwealth were recognised and the considerable political and social changes in the world at this point in time, produced an upsurge of interest in RIBA recognition outside the Commonwealth system, which in general terms was prompted by:

A newly perceived need for quality assessment in schools of architecture within by a substantial growth in the number of centres where architectural education is available.

Discovery of the RIBA's unique experience in international validation and respect of the consistency of its standards and efficiency of its validation system.

Desire for participation in a world-wide network in architectural education and new opportunities to fulfil that desire following political changes.

The need for a contribution from external expertise in the development of architectural education and training.

A desire for professional co-operation arising from the globalising of markets and, often, a change from state-run to private enterprise systems.

The RIBA's international work on education and training enables a mutual exchange of expertise in all aspects of architectural education and training, including continuing professional development and academic staff and student exchanges. The international network of schools of architecture also allows students to qualify to RIBA standards in their home countries and abroad; in effect offering an extremely broad and enriching

The Royal Institute has been approached by a large number of overseas schools of architecture in recent years, who are keen to avail themselves of RIBA experience and expertise and consequently the international network is set to expand considerably in the 21st century.

Unrecognised Schools

Graduates and holders of diplomas from unrecognised schools outside the United Kingdom are eligible for RIBA membership and registration if they are able to show, at a formal interview at the Royal Institute, that the standard and scope of the examinations they have passed elsewhere are equivalent of United Kingdom recognised examinations. Under this arrangement a number of architects from outside the United Kingdom have been able to register in the United Kingdom

Author Frances Mills RIBA


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