RSUA responds to ARB consultation on competence

20/10/2020

RSUA has responded to the recent ARB call for evidence which forms part of its review of its regulatory model and architects’ competence. ARB is due to receive legislative powers to monitor the competence of architects at the end of next year.

RSUA answered a series of questions relating to competences required of architects, the length of time required to qualify, and the need for on-going training and development. RSUA recognised the broad range of skills, knowledge, and experience architects demonstrate and responded that the length of the time taken to qualify seems to be adequate and well structured. RSUA believes that there needs to be a greater emphasis on the quality and impact of continuous professional development – time spent is no guarantee of attainment – and suggested that CPD should arguably be tailored to match the career role level of those undertaking it. RSUA does, however, support a required minimum number of hours for formal and informal CPD each year.

With respect to the monitoring of architects’ competence, RSUA supports a system of online recording of completed CPD which is audited by random checks, noting that such a system did not have to be administered by ARB but clearly required its confidence. RSUA did not support a risk-based audit of architects’ CPD as such an approach could leave itself open to challenge. RSUA rejected a mandatory quinquennial revalidation as infeasible for ARB to administer.

Overall, RSUA believes it is important to find a balanced way of monitoring the competences so that it will not result in a reduction of accredited architects and / or potentially increase the number of unregistered professionals working under the supervision of an ARB registered architect and undertaking activities attributed to architects.

With respect to the ARB criteria RSUA largely supported Parts 1 and 2 of the General Criteria noting the need for more detailed study and understanding of the role of architects in society and suggesting a greater emphasis on Fire Safety in the wake of the Grenfell disaster.

For Parts 1 and 2 of the Graduate Attributes, RSUA believes an adjusted balance of more practical knowledge and training versus formal education might help realise the competencies relevant to practice and suggested that climate literacy, sustainability, comfort, inclusivity and technical specification might be further embedded into Parts 1 and 2. RSUA recognised the wide range of differing graduate experiences for students in their Part I year-out placements. This variation can impact hugely upon how well prepared entrants are to Part II. RSUA believes more could be done to ensure that core skills and competencies are in place before undertaking post-graduate education, and suggested greater monitoring of the range and quality of skills that graduates are exposed to in their year(s)-out would help in this.

For Part 3 professional criteria, RSUA argued that more effort needs to be spent on post-design and post-occupancy evaluations and stated that the ethical and professional obligations need to extend through all aspects of the profession.

The full response can be read here.