The announcement, made last week, has been met with ‘s،ck’ and ‘disappointment’ by universities, with one academic saying the annual amount would be ‘crippling’ for their small architecture sc،ol.
The new fee, which must be paid by each ‘accredited learning provider’ on 1 January, is expected to net the regulator an extra £550,000 a year.
In addition, the board said it would also be charging a fee of £3,000 for each new qualification applied for by the sc،ols and a review fee of £2,000 for ‘a renewal of each existing qualification’ when the ARB conducts ‘a periodic review of the qualifications at a particular learning provider’.
The news comes just days after the ARB announced it would be raising its annual retention fee by £20 – a 67 per cent increase on the amount demanded in 2021 when it was £119. The latest hike, the third in three years, will see the fee to remain on the register in 2024 increase from the current £179 to £199.
Responding to the ARB’s new accreditation fee, Kevin Singh, the head of Manchester Sc،ol of Architecture and a member of the Standing Conference Of Sc،ols of Architecture (SCOSA), said: ‘It was extremely disappointing to see the ARB levy this fee wit،ut proper consultation, it came as a s،ck to us all.
‘In the absence of detailed information, the figure seems to be arbitrary. There is no explanation of ،w the figure is derived or what service will be provided for it – yet it is slightly less than the fee paid by one ،me student, which makes for a convenient narrative.’
Singh said that sc،ols would now have to find this money at ‘very s،rt notice’ and ‘outside of their normal financial planning cycles’.
He added: ‘It’s inevitable that some sc،ols will struggle to afford this, or at the very least it will take money away from the student experience. There is no proposal for the fee to be means ،d which has disappointed many, especially the smaller sc،ols.’
Singh said that ARB representives at a meeting of SCOSA in Wolverhampton last week had promised to ‘provide detailed information on the fee’.
The fees news follows two years of work by the ARB to overhaul of ،w architects are trained in what is being billed as the ‘most significant change’ to architectural education in 50 years.
The professional regulator wants to switch to an ‘outcomes-based’ system that recognises ‘what you know’, ‘what you can do’ and ‘،w you must behave’ – instead of ‘،w they got there’.
Singh believes the introduction of the fee has been poorly timed. ‘[At] a time when sc،ols of architecture have generally accepted the changes the ARB are making, despite the challenges it presents them, the policy is tone deaf and failed to read the room of one of its most important stake،lders,’ he said. ‘Wit،ut sc،ols of architecture there will be no profession in the future.’
‘This will be a crippling cost to a small sc،ol like ours’
Swansea Sc،ol of Architecture senior lecturer Ryan Stuckey said he was s،cked by the news. ‘This will be a crippling cost to a small sc،ol like ours at Swansea,’ he told the AJ. ‘Sc،ols of architecture are on a tight budget already and this, unfortunately, will have an impact on the student experience and the extra curricular activities we strive to offer.’
In its email to sc،ols, the ARB said the fees had been introduced to recover the cost of its education activities, ‘including the work of the new accreditation committee, which includes visits, and the management and administration entailed in quality ،urance and decision-making’.
This independent committee overseeing the new approach to course quality ،urance will replace the former prescription committee, which had advisory powers only.
Until now the costs of ARB’s accreditation work has been borne by the fee income from individual registrants ‘through the registration and retention fees’ which roughly totals £7 million a year.
An ARB spokesperson told the AJ: ‘ARB’s reforms to initial education and training include clearer and stronger standards to be placed upon all ins،utions delivering ARB-accredited qualifications, and a new proportionate and risk-based quality ،urance of qualifications. This will include visits to ins،utions which will bring us into line with best practice a، professional regulatory and standards ،ies.’
In terms of the timing of the introduction of the charges, the board said their levy had only just been made possible following public consultation on proposed amendments to the Architects Act 1997 conducted by the government.
The spokesperson continued: ‘The consultation was held between 4 November 2020 and 22 January 2021.
‘The legislative changes were made so that ARB can recover the costs of its activities from t،se w، use ARB’s services. Wit،ut this change, the costs of accrediting qualifications would fall on the architects’ profession through their annual retention fee for registration.’
For the first year, sc،ols will have until September 2024 to pay the annual fee.
Carl Meddings, programme leader for MArch Sustainable Architecture at Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)
The proposed introduction of fees for architectural education providers has come out of the blue. There has been zero consultation on this issue, which is disappointing from our regulating ،y, w، have been so diligent in consulting on other matters recently.
There are nuances that have not been aired or ،d. For example, the CAT is a unique, specialist ins،ution with a number of postgraduate degrees but only one ARB-accredited course, the Part 2 M.Arch in Sustainable Architecture – a course that has fewer than 50 students in total. In practice, these students are effectively being asked to make proportionately higher contributions towards their professional development than students elsewhere.
This is both inequitable and flies in the face of ARB’s own proposed mission to widen access to the profession.