Tomorrow's Architects: ARB consultation on education and training reforms

Closed 10 May 2023

Opened 8 Feb 2023

Feedback updated 7 Sep 2023

We asked

From February 2023 to May 2023, we launched a new consultation on our approach to the way architects are trained and educated. We consulted to invite views on a new regulatory framework, new competency outcomes, new standards for learning providers and new plans for quality assurance. We proposed that:

  • The regulatory framework for educating and training architects should change from the current approach (Parts 1, 2 and 3) to require only two accredited qualifications.
  • Qualifications accredited by ARB should be based on a new set of competency outcomes, so that they are based on what architects can do, not what they are taught.
  • Clear standards should be required of universities and all learning providers delivering ARB-accredited qualifications.
  • ARB should introduce a new proportionate and risk-based quality assurance of qualifications.
  • Should our proposals be approved, anyone setting out to become an architect from September 2027 onwards should be trained and educated through the new, improved framework and assessed using the new competence outcomes. We published a draft transition timetable as part of the consultation.

You said

We received 672 unique responses, demonstrating a wide reach across different roles, regions, and respondent characteristics. Most responses (59%) were from registered architects (396). One hundred and ten of these (16% of total respondents) were also academics. We also received responses from students, other built environment professionals, member of the public, and other types of respondents including international architects, architectural technology students, and retired architects.

The framework
There were mixed views about the proposed regulatory framework, with 40% agreeing that it would meet our aim and 43% disagreeing. More respondents agreed that our proposals will improve access (43%) than disagreed (36%). In addition to this, many respondents agreed that the proposals would enable innovation and flexibility, as well as increase access for underrepresented groups.

Professional practical experience
The majority (60%) disagreed with our proposal to remove the minimum duration of practical professional experience and one in ten said they found it unclear.

Competency outcomes
In our proposed new structure, skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours are defined through five competency areas: Professionalism and Ethnics, Design, Research and Evaluation, Contextual and Architectural Knowledge, and Management Practice and Leadership. There were high levels of support for all the proposed competency areas, ranging from 74% (Professionalism and ethics) to 64% (Research and evaluation). Furthermore, we received a variety of opinions regarding the competencies' content, as well as numerous beneficial suggestions for drafting changes to improve clarity and feedback from respondents about the number of competencies presented, along with suggestions for additional competency outcomes.

Accreditation and transition
More respondents agreed than disagreed with each proposed standard for learning providers, from 52% (Educational content) to 43% (Human resources). The most commonly expressed opinion (provided by 17% of respondents) on the transition arrangements was that we should be more explicit and provide more clarity about our plans.

We did

ARB’s Board has discussed the analysis and considered the next steps alongside the aims of our reforms and our statutory remit, and has made the following decisions:

The framework
Important modifications will be made to the regulatory framework before we introduce it, to make sure it upholds standards whilst also removing bureaucracy and opening up the potential for new routes to joining the Register of Architects. Respondent views on the framework were mixed, but those who disagreed were not in alignment about an alternative. We will issue new guidance to learning providers about the appropriate learning and experience of those seeking to access the new Masters qualification. Our proposals do not negatively impact student access to funding.

Professional practical experience
We will revise proposals for professional practical experience. We have learned through the consultation that removing the minimum duration will not address the problems that arise for those looking to gain the experience, and could have the unintended consequence of weakening the standards of the architects’ profession. We will consider short-term modifications like additional flexibility about the types of experience which are deemed relevant.

We will also appoint an independent Commission to develop new recommendations for the Board. We cannot solve all the problems with practical experience, but we want to take the lead in helping to improve access to it, and the experience of future architects. The Commission will help us identify how best to do that. It will run alongside our overall timetable and will not delay it.

Competency outcomes
We’ll make some drafting amendments based on useful feedback, and publish the final versions this autumn.

Accreditation and transition
We will publish the final version of the standards this autumn. We will establish a stakeholder group to give us agile feedback as the transition progresses.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


Architects play a crucial role in creating a built environment that is safe, sustainable and where everyone in society can live well.  As the professional regulator, ARB’s main function is to ensure all those who are on the UK Register are competent. We do this in a number of ways, but this consultation is about a fundamental overhaul of the regulatory framework for the education and training of architects. This means we are proposing to change the way in which we ensure those who study and train in the UK have demonstrated the necessary competencies to become architects.

This consultation is the culmination of over two years of detailed policy development, including focus groups, surveys, events and in depth conversations with stakeholders. Our research and engagement have demonstrated that change is needed if regulation is to enable the continuing innovation within the Higher Education sector and if the UK is to sustain its reputation for excellence.

UK architectural education is globally respected and attracts students from all over the world, but the regulatory framework is inflexible and hasn’t changed in over fifty years. Learning providers need a framework that allows for flexibility and innovation and helps students achieve the competencies required to face emerging and future challenges, including the climate emergency. We’re also aware that whilst the current regulatory framework for education has produced thousands of excellent architects, it’s created significant barriers to some people becoming architects at all. We’ve heard that the cost of education and the requirements for work experience create barriers for people from less affluent backgrounds or without existing networks in the profession.  

In 2021 we proposed that the most effective approach would be to move away from the traditional, three-part qualifications structure and for ARB to set a new framework based on educational outcomes, or the competencies required for registration. By doing so we want to enable learning providers to innovate and develop new routes to registration including the expansion of work based and apprenticeship style models. This means moving to a new framework in which our regulatory focus is on what an individual must know, what they must be able to do, and how they must behave, rather how and what they are taught. We held a public survey on our proposed approach: 65% of respondents agreed that the existing structure of Parts 1, 2 and 3 needs to change (with only 17% disagreeing) and 80% agreed that we should move away from a rules-based approach of the Criteria to an outcomes-based approach. Read our vision for education here, and the results of our survey here.

Under our proposals:

If our proposals are approved, anyone setting out to become an architect from September 2027 onwards will have to be trained and educated through our new, improved framework and assessed using the new learning outcomes.

Why your views matter

We want to continue to build on our previous engagement efforts and to work with architects, academics, students and others in the built environment sector so that your views, expertise and experiences can shape our regulatory approach. We want to develop a new regulatory framework that works for students and institutions, that provides assurance of the quality of qualifications, and produces competent architects for the future.

What happens next

This consultation will close 10 May 2023. We will read every response and analyse the key themes raised. Using this evidence, the Board will consider whether any changes or improvements can be made and decide whether to introduce the new framework, competency outcomes, standards and associated processes and governance. It is our intention that in January 2025 ARB’s Accreditation Committee will receive the first set of new qualifications based on the new outcomes for decision, aiming to have students to start in September 2025.


  • Academic - registered architect
  • Academic - other
  • Registered architect
  • Architectural assistant, designer or consultant (not Part 3 qualified)
  • Architecture Student – undergraduate (studying Part 1)
  • Architecture Student – graduate (studying Part 2)
  • Architecture Student – Part 3 candidate
  • Elected political representative e.g. councillor or MP


  • Initial education and training
  • Education