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An unequal standard across Europe - illustrating the irrational requirement for the RIBA Part III qualification from those applying for registration from the United Kingdom while requiring only the equivalent of an RIBA Part II qualification from those applying from the EU.

A challenge to the unequal standard across Europe - Case Study 4 - describing the injustice of how an established and successful practitioner who would be qualified to practise and to describe himself as an architect within the European Union is prevented from doing so in the United Kingdom and the Union by rule of the Architects Registration Board.   (23 November 2010)

Case Study 4, Part 2 (4 April 2011): With the Appellant's permission we publish the Opinion of Mr Craig Morrison (Brick Court Chambers) here for the information of inquirers and policy-makers. Its conclusion is that the Applicant had two arguable grounds on which to challenge the decision of the Board, namely (1) that it resulted in indefensible inconsistency as regards UK and EU-trained applicants, but that (for the reasons given in the Opinion) counsel believed that this ground was likely to be unsuccessful on appeal; and (2) that the Board’s approach to s.4(1)(b) is contrary to the requirements of the Architects Act 1997, and (in Counsel's view) the second ground had much greater force as a matter of principle (but would be unlikely to lead to the overturning of the Board’s decision as regards the Applicant on the particular facts of this case).

The duty to consult - illustrating concerns raised by the Board's approach to statutory consultation when prescribing qualifications.

The ARB's own examinations - illustrating a means of circumventing the Board's much criticised examinations.

Architectural education in the United Kingdom : Examinations, qualifications and reasonable expectations - This note, published on 2 June 2007 on a separate page, has been submitted by a contributor for the information of inquirers and policy-makers, particularly having regard to the topics of eligibility for membership of the RIBA, mutual recognition of qualifications among EEA States, and freedom to practise as an architect worldwide.  To the article ( To PDF version)

Case study 3 - Does the Architects Act comply with EU requirements? (November 2008)

Validation of courses or the prescription of qualifications?  An AARUK contributor, in a letter to Board Members on 9 May 2009, argues that the current practice of the Board is to validate architectural courses rather than (as permitted by the Act) to prescribe qualifications.  He suggests that the whole of the Board's involvement with "learning outcomes" should be unravelled so that the Board can deliver its statutory duty to prescribe qualifications to the equivalent level of RIBA Part II, and no higher.

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The ARB's own examinations

For those who are unable to apply for registration because they do not hold a qualification prescribed by the Board and who do not have a recognised EEA qualification, a route to registration is opened to them by section 4(1)(b) of the Act which allows applicants to demonstrate a standard of competence equivalent to that of a prescribed qualification and practical experience.

The Board can require those applying to register by this means to demonstrate their "standard of competence" by passing a prescribed examination in architecture, a route that appears to be universally applied.  However, the only examination that is currently available is the examination set by the Board itself.  This examination has been criticised because the Board is not empowered to conduct examinations under the Act and appears to do so only by straining the meaning of the Act.  Moreover, the examinations are expensive and the results appear to be inconsistent when benchmarked.

It has been suggested that the examination should revert to the RIBA which has a wealth of knowledge on education standards that the Board cannot ever hope to match.  In 2008 the Board apparently took heed of this suggestion by inviting several institutions, including the RIBA, to tender for providing examinations.  For reasons that have yet to be explained, there was no unqualified tender and in consequence, none was accepted.

In the meantime, it appears that an application for membership of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland is possible, including where the applicant is accredited by a course recognised by the professional body of a non-EC state, subject to verification by the RIAI's Board of Architectural Education and at the discretion of its Council*. 

Once a member of the RIAI an architect is entitled to be registered in Part 1 of the UK Register of Architects, provided the applicant is a "Directive-rights national" (that is an EC Member State national).  All the architect must do is present a Certificate of Associateship or Membership of the RIAI.  This route is permitted by the provisions of Article 46 and Point 5.7.1 of Annex V of the EC Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications, brought into force in the United Kingdom in June 2008 by the Architects Act as amended by the The Architects (Recognition of European Qualifications etc and Saving and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2008.  (Inquirers from the Republic of Ireland may wish to note that it appears that the RAIA will not necessarily accept such a certificate for the purposes of registration in the Republic of Ireland if the Certificate was issued in Ireland. See "an unequal standard across Europe", above.)

AARUK is grateful to Mr Charles Edwards for bringing this to our attention and to Mr Nasir Shaddad for trying it out.

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Architects Act
Architects Registration Board
Registration
- education
- competence to practise
Professional standards - the code, etc
PII
discipline
Use of title
Links to websites:
chartered bodies
legislation
- historical notes