University Liaison

University Liaison visits continue to form an important part of our work. Not only do they establish a useful and constructive point of contact between ARB and the schools/institutions of architecture, but they also raise student awareness of the responsibilities placed on architects, along with an understanding of professional regulation.

We provide workshops on request for students taking prescribed qualifications at all levels. The workshops introduce students to ARB and the professional responsibilities which come with registration, as well as the importance of ensuring good practice and maintaining good standards for the benefit of the public and the profession. The workshops equip students with an understanding of the obligations they must meet once they join the Register, and feedback from the Professional Studies Advisers confirms that the workshops continue to be of high quality in terms of their nature and scope.

We made 45 university liaison visits during 2012. Of these:

15 were at Part 1 level (two of which were at institutions offering newly prescribed qualifications)
10 were at Part 2 level
20 were at Part 3 level

Prescription of UK Qualifications

ARB is responsible for prescribing (recognising) the qualifications in architecture that an individual must possess to enter the UK Register of Architects. Institutions wishing to renew prescription of existing qualifications or seeking to have their qualifications prescribed for the first time, must present documentary material to demonstrate that key objectives have been or will be met. Meeting the key objectives provides the Board with confidence that, among other things, students obtaining a prescribed qualification will have demonstrated that they have met all of the relevant Criteria. The Criteria set out the minimum standards that a qualification in architecture needs to meet. Once prescription has been granted for the first time or renewed, qualifications are then subject to an annual review to check that the Board’s requirements are continuing to be met.

ARB runs a rolling cycle for renewing prescription of qualifications it recognises in addition to considering qualifications where prescription is being sought for the first time. During 2012, the Board:

Renewed prescription of 36 qualifications from 17 institutions
Approved prescription for the first time for 5 qualifications at 4 institutions
Turned around the applications for prescription in an average of 28 weeks
Received and processed 37 annual monitoring submissions involving 97 qualifications
Processed the annual monitoring submissions in an average of 4 weeks

Whilst the number of annual monitoring submissions and applications to renew prescription has remained relatively stable, we have noted that interest from new institutions seeking to gain prescription of their qualifications for the first time continues to grow. Over the last three years, an average of three new institutions approached us each year with a view to gaining prescription of their qualifications at either Part 1 or at Part 2 level.

Once the relevant qualifications have been prescribed for the first time, we then work to secure their listing under the relevant section of the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive [2005/36/EC] by supporting the institution through the notification process established by the European Commission for this purpose.


European Commission’s Review of the Professional Qualifications Directive
The Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive [2005/36/EC] allows professionals who meet the criteria within the Directive to move within Europe by claiming access to the national title of professionals who do the same work. Mutual recognition is based on the principle that qualifications gained in one country are recognised in another country. For the profession of architects, this process of recognition can be automatic if the qualifications leading to access to the title are listed under Annex V of the Directive.

ARB is the UK’s competent authority for architects and is responsible for implementing the Directive’s provisions that are relevant to architects.

Last year, we reported on our contribution to the European authorities’ review of the Directive. In 2012, we continued to be actively engaged in the review of the Directive through our relationship with Government and through our membership of the European Network of Competent Authorities in Architecture (ENACA) and the Architects Council of Europe (ACE), as revisions to the legislation were debated by the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission. We also continued to work hard to ensure that the views of the UK’s key stakeholders were made known to the European authorities as debates about amendments to the Directive carried on throughout 2012. Feedback from our stakeholders confirms that our expertise and experience in this area has been valued.

The revisions to the Directive will continue to be debated in early 2013 and we anticipate that agreement between the European authorities will be reached in mid to late 2013. We will continue to disseminate information and work with our key stakeholders in this area to ensure that the transposition of the Directive in all EU Member States is harmonised.

Reviewing UK and European qualifications for listing under the Qualifications Directive
All European qualifications leading to automatic recognition are listed in Annex V of the Qualifications Directive.

The European Commission circulates detailed information about notified qualifications to all EU Member States, giving them two months to indicate whether a qualification complies with the Directive (in terms of duration, location and content of the training) or whether they need further information before making a decision. If Member States still have concerns after the consultation period, the qualification is given additional scrutiny by the Commission’s Architecture Sub-Group, at which the UK is represented. Only when it is deemed to comply with the Directive can a qualification be listed in Annex V of the Directive and published in the Official Journal. Annex V also lists each Member State’s requirements for registration, which typically includes the qualifications as well as any practical training experience requirements. Architects holding listed qualifications and who meet any additional requirements set out in the Directive can benefit from the automatic recognition in Member States.

In the UK, ARB scrutinises each qualification notified to the European Commission to ensure it complies with the Directive. During 2012, ARB reviewed 27 European qualifications from seven Member States which are illustrated as follows:




Number of Qualifications

Austria 2
Germany 9
Lithuania 6
Italy 1
Poland 2
Portugal 6
Spain 1
  Total 27

Keeping the UK’s entry under Annex V up to date

The UK notifies ARB-recognised qualifications to the European Commission, both to demonstrate the quality of its qualifications and to build trust and understanding with institutions in other European Member States.

Acting in our role as the UK’s competent authority for architects, we have worked closely with the schools/institutions of architecture to support them in securing the Commission’s listing while their qualifications were scrutinised and, ultimately, approved at European level. In 2012, we secured approval for the listing of one new qualification and seven title changes.

The feedback we’ve received has confirmed that the UK schools/institutions have found our support and assistance in this area to be vital. The schools/institutions have also welcomed our efforts to reduce the need for them to duplicate material which has previously been submitted for the purposes of prescription. Additionally, our European counterparts have reported that they value the clarity we have brought to the notification process, with several adopting the templates we have developed for our UK notifications.

Delegations from Macedonia and South Africa
We were pleased to welcome delegations from Macedonia and South Africa during 2012. Representatives from the Macedonian Government and the existing professional bodies in South Africa asked to meet with us to learn more about our processes for registration, and in the case of Macedonia, our role as a European competent authority. We took each of the delegations through aspects of the Architects Act 1997 and the routes to registration in the UK. We also explained ARB’s procedures for prescribing qualifications. The meetings were also of benefit to us as they presented us with the opportunity to learn more about the parallel processes in both Macedonia and South Africa.