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Consultation on the cessation of the Distinguished Achievements route to registration


The Architects Registration Board was established by Parliament in 1997 to regulate the architects’ profession in the UK.  We are an independent public interest body, and our work in regulating architects ensures that good standards within the profession are consistently maintained for the benefit of the public and architects alike.

Background to consultation

The Architects Registration Board has agreed to hold a consultation exercise based following a review of its Distinguished Achievements route to registration.  The consultation will comply with ARB’s code of practice for consultation exercises.

Purpose of consultation

Before formalising these proposals, it is important that we have as wide a range of views as possible.  This feedback will assist the Board in its final consideration of the Distinguished Achievements route before any changes are made. We would therefore appreciate any views or comments you might have on the proposals.

The Distinguished Achievements route was set up and approved by the Board in December 2000. Further fine-tuning of the route was completed in January 2002 and 2009. In 2000 the Board concluded that there should be a route put in place to mirror that described in Article 5 of the 1985 Architects Directive. The Architects Directive was replaced by the Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/CE (the PQD) in 2008. There is no obligation on the Board to continue to offer such a route, the PQD provision relates only to incoming EU migrants who fall into the category of ‘distinguished’ in the opinion of another European competent authority. ARB has yet to receive an application from a European migrant in this category.

At its meeting on 16 September 2010, the Board approved a review of the ‘Distinguished Achievements’ route; the Board asked that this review consider evidence which had already been collated by the Distinguished Achievements Group. The Distinguished Achievements Group comprises two Board Members; the President of the RIBA and an appointed architect member. The Group brought its findings back to the Board and these were considered at the Board Meeting of 7th April 2011.

One key point which the Board considered was the approach taken to assessing equivalence through the Distinguished Achievements route when compared to that of other equivalence routes. Under the Distinguished Achievements route, the Panel reviewing applications is required first of all to consider whether an applicant has demonstrated eligibility to make use of the route – and only having established that, to then consider whether the applicant has evidenced a standard of competence which is equivalent to that demonstrated by architects on the Register holding prescribed qualifications (i.e. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 level qualifications). Other routes to registration such as the Board’s Prescribed Examination take a more structured approach to equivalence, requiring that an applicant drafts a structured comparison, citing their evidence against the Board’s criteria at the relevant level.

Having considered the general approach to assessing these applications, the Board noted that that the nature of this route did not reflect the direction of travel the Board has taken in the Prescribed Examination and other ARB routes to registration, in that the mapping and cross referencing against the boards criteria used to support the other application processes, although implicit in the Distinguished Achievements route, does not form part of an applicant’s submission. The Board also noted that this assessment of equivalence under such a tailored process had only been possible because of the very limited number of individuals who were eligible to apply and that any changes it might make which would increase eligible applicants would be likely to make the process unworkable.

The Board also considered feedback from the Group which indicated that the current route offered an approach to registration which mirrored ‘honorary fellowship’ and similar approaches to respectful recognition offered by membership organisations. The Group came to the conclusion that the existing Prescribed Examination scheme and availability of the Part 3 qualification (including its inherent flexibility) was sufficient provision to enable those wishing to register to establish themselves in the UK. It noted that having checked the availability of equivalent routes amongst a number of other statutory regulators, none offered an equivalent route to the Distinguished Achievements route.

In closing, the Board also considered the recommendation of the European Commission in respect to the minimum duration of qualifications for architects. The Commission’s Advisory Committee on Education and Training in the Field of Architecture published guidance in August 2006 for the official notification process applicable to qualifications in architecture under the now obsolete Architects’  Directive (85/384) and the current Professional Qualifications Directive, which states:

“Both Directives are perfectly clear that formal architectural education must be a minimum of four years duration. Member States which allow graduates with a three year diploma to practice architecture may very well be unwittingly raising the hopes of holders of these qualifications in the context of the Directive and, irrespective of what arrangements are being made within an individual Member State there is no possibility that Graduates with these 3 year qualifications can benefit from automatic recognition to provide architectural services across the European Union.”

Having taken account of all of these factors, the Board decided that it wished to align its processes with the European requirements and decided that the Distinguished Achievements route should be withdrawn, subject to the outcome of a consultation. The Board also decided to suspend the route in the meantime, until it could take account of the responses it hoped to receive as part of the consultation.

The Board asked that staff investigate further whether the more flexible methodology for assessment of competence used in the Distinguished Achievement Route had any application in any other context. That process remains in progress and this consultation will contribute to the final outcome.

Areas for consultation

The provision to be consulted on is:

The cessation of the route.

The Distinguished Achievements route, a Response Form and an Equality Monitoring form are provided as part of this email consultation.

List of consultees

  • Anna Radcliffe (architect)
  • Archaos
  • Architects for Change
  • Architecture and Design Scotland
  • Association for Consultancy and Engineering
  • Association for Disabled Professionals
  • Association of Building Engineers
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors
  • Association of Consultant Architects
  • Association of Cost Engineers
  • Association of Interior Specialists
  • Black & Ethnic Minority Community Organisation Network
  • Bristowe Project
  • Building Centre
  • CABE
  • Central Scotland Racial Equality Council
  • Centre for Education in the Built Environment
  • Centre LGS
  • Change the Face of Construction
  • Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists
  • Chartered Institute of Building
  • Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers
  • Chartered Institute of Civil Engineering Surveyors
  • Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers
  • Citizens Advice
  • Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Coalition on Sexual Orientation
  • Construction Industry Council
  • Consumer Focus
  • Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations
  • Design Council
  • Disability Wales
  • Engender
  • Engineering Council UK
  • English Heritage
  • Equalities National Council of Disabled People
  • Equality and Diversity Forum
  • Faith Communities Consultative Council
  • Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association
  • General Chiropractic Council
  • General Dental Council
  • General Medical Council
  • General Optical Council
  • General Osteopathic Council
  • Government Equalities Office
  • Guild of Architectural Ironmongers
  • Health & Safety Executive
  • Health Professions Council
  • Hestia Housing Association
  • Home Builders Federation
  • Institute of Accoustics
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • Institute of Construction Management
  • Institute of Engineering and Technology
  • Institute of Mechanical Engineers
  • Institute of Structural Engineers
  • Institution of Civil Engineers
  • Islamic Society of Great Britain
  • Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
  • LABC
  • Landscape Institute
  • Law Society (Northern Ireland)
  • Law Society (Scotland)
  • Maria Battle, Consumer Focus Wales
  • Marieke Dwarshuis, Consumer Focus Scotland
  • Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive Consumer Focus
  • MIND
  • Muslim Womens Network UK
  • National Bureau for Students with Disabilities
  • National Centre for Independent Living
  • Network for Black Professionals
  • Network of Buddhist Organisations
  • Network of Sikh Organisations
  • NHBC
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Policy Research Institute on Ageing and Ethnicity
  • Quality Assurance Agency
  • Quality Assurance Agency (Scotland)
  • Race on the Agenda
  • RIAS
  • RIBA
  • RICS
  • Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
  • Royal Society of Architects in Wales
  • Royal Society of Ulster Architects
  • Royal Town Planning Association
  • Sandra Manley – University of the West of England
  • Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
  • Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
  • Scottish Interfaith Society
  • Society of Environmental Engineers
  • Solicitors Regulation Authority
  • Steel Construction Institute
  • The Access Association
  • The Bar Council
  • The Confederation of Indian Organisations
  • The Ethnic Minority Foundation
  • The Group for Solicitors with Disabilities
  • The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust
  • UK Green Building Council
  • Wales Council for Voluntary Action
  • Which?
  • Women and Manual Trades
  • Women in Architecture
  • Women into Science, Engineering and Construction
  • Women’s Resource Centre
  • Worshipful Company of Architects

Contact details

Responses can be sent to us by email, fax or post, and should be addressed to:

Rob Wilson Registration Executive ARB 8 Weymouth Street London W1W 5BU t. 020 7580 5861 f. 020 7436 5269

Please let us have these by 5pm on 30 September 2011. If you have any queries about any aspect of this consultation exercise, please contact, or call us on 020 7580 5861.  We will publish a summary of all responses on our website following the Board’s decision.

ARB’s response

ARB will consider the responses to this consultation exercise in the open session of its Board Meeting. ARB’s written response will then be available in due course.

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