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Course Validation and Prescription

The roles and requirements of the key players in the validation process (ARB, RIBA and QAA)

Architects' Registration Board (ARB)

The ARB are responsible under the Architects Act of 1997 for the prescription of qualifications that are necessary for an individual to process if they are to be placed on the register of architects. As such these requirements represent a minimum standard that all students of architecture must attain. Since September 2003, they have ceased visiting schools of architecture in order to validate courses and no longer ask to see examples of student’s work. It is now the responsibility of schools of architecture to provide documentary evidence that enables the ARB to be confident that the quality systems in place ensure that all students of architecture are meeting all of their criteria. Nevertheless a copy of a report from an RIBA Visiting Board is likely to form a substantial part of a school's application for prescription. Prescription is normally granted for a four year period during which an annual submission of documentation, including external examiner’s reports, is required to provide evidence that the relevant quality standards are being upheld.


The Role of ARB Prescription of Qualifications
PowerPoint presentation by Jon Levitt (ARB Head of Education) given at CEBE/SCHOSA workshop on Preparing for validation and Planning for Prescription, 28th April 2004

Planning for Prescription
PowerPoint presentation by Jon Levitt and Emma Matthews(ARB Education Executive) given at CEBE/SCHOSA workshop on Preparing for validation and Planning for Prescription, 28th April 2004

Frequently asked questions on the processes of prescription from the ARB
A regularly updated explanation of the ARB’s prescription processes (on the ARB Web Site)

Prescription of Qualifications: ARB Procedures
Document contains details of the process of applying for prescription, and subsequent annual monitoring submissions. It includes guidance in appendix one as to the materials and documentation an institution may wish to consider when submitting an application for prescription.(on the ARB Web Site).

Prescription of Qualifications: ARB Criteria
The ARB’s criteria for validation, held in common with the RIBA (on the ARB Web Site)

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

The RIBA recognises architectural courses and examinations for two reasons. First, to ensure that graduates of RIBA recognised courses are eligible for full chartered membership of the RIBA, and second, to facilitate an ongoing dialogue between the practising profession and its knowledge base. RIBA Visiting Boards - visit schools of architecture - every four years - (until 2003 it was every 5 years), upon invitation from the institution’s Vice Chancellor. The RIBA Criteria for Validation is held in common with the ARB. However, the RIBA are also interested in standards beyond the minimum pass level and are particularly keen to see evidence of diversity, specialisation and innovation in schools' curricula. The new RIBA Procedures include annual monitoring and a mid-term visit by the Chair or Vice-Chair of the Visiting Board and the secretary.


The Role of Validation of Courses
Power-Point Presentation given by Leonie Milliner (RIBA Director of Education) given at CEBE/SCHOSA workshop on Preparing for validation and Planning for Prescription, 28th April 2004

Modernised RIBA Validation Procedures
Power-Point Presentation given by Chris Ellis (RIBA Head of Validation) given at CEBE/SCHOSA workshop on Preparing for validation and Planning for Prescription, 28th April 2004

Procedures for validation
The document contains details of the process of preparing for a validation, including the requirements of visiting boards (on the RIBA Web Site).

Criteria for Validation
The RIBA’s criteria of validation including the outline sylabus, held in common with the ARB (on the RIBA Web Site)

Tomorrow’s Architect
This document represents a manifesto for architectural education. It contains an annotated version of the RIBA’s outline syllabus that has been expanded to give more of the flavour and atmosphere of architectural education and actual student work. The document is available for purchase from the RIBA Bookshop

Institutional Quality Assurance / Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)

QAA are contracted by the higher education funding bodies to ensure that standards are maintained in all higher education institutions. From 2005, the QAA plans to operate a 'light touch regime' and will generally no longer be visiting individual departments. They are now placing a greater emphasis upon ensuring that institutional quality assurance mechanisms are of an adequate standard. The likely impact for departments and schools of architecture will be that, whilst the QAA provide a lighter touch, central university quality units may need to provide a 'heavier' touch in order to ensure that they meet QAA requirements. The QAA do not specify criteria for validation of architecture courses but do provide a benchmark statement outlining a typical course in architecture with which departments can compare themselves. The mechanisms for QAA review varies between England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.
Between now and 2005, departments that have not previously received QAA visits may be asked to undertake a 'Developmental Engagement' whereby a small team will visit to review quality procedures and particularly talk to students.


A brief guide to quality assurance in UK higher education
Document on the QAA web site

Of particular relevance are sections on: