Our Role: Registration
We maintain an accurate, up-to-date UK Register of Architects by processing applications and by ensuring those we register are appropriately qualified and their details are up to date. We also provide advice and support to those with queries about routes to registration.
In addition we administer the Prescribed Examination, giving individuals from all over the world the chance to access the Register by demonstrating their qualifications are equivalent to UK qualifications.
In 2017, we introduced a Welcome Pack to help newly registered architects understand their responsibilities as a registered professional and to signpost them to a number of useful organisations. We also acted on feedback to revise some of our website and online portal content to help prevent applicants making commonly identified mistakes while completing their applications, including adding FAQs and Best Practice (‘Dos and Don’ts’) content to our ‘Before Examination’ webpage. Over the course of the year we reviewed all of our procedures and staff guidelines for managing them to ensure consistently high standards in the quality of decision making and a positive experience for applicants.
As a result of these amendments, the number of applications by the UK and EU routes made online increased to 99% from 98% in 2016. We also reduced the average UK application processing time from 10 to seven working days, and the average EU application from 14 to 11 working days. We never underestimate the impact a prompt registration process can have on the individual applicant and will strive to improve further where we can.
We are funded in the main by an annual ‘retention’ fee paid by architects to be part of a regulated profession and on the Architects Register for another year. In September 2016 the Board decided to hold the 2017 Retention fee at £107 and it has also been held at £107 for 2018.
The retention fee is due on 31 December each year. When prompting registrants to pay on time we aim to send enough useful cues without overwhelming recipients with too many reminders. We use a range of mediums to contact registrants including letters, emails, texts and social media posts. Social media is a medium where users can choose what information they receive and can be a particularly effective tool for reaching a large number of registrants without being intrusive. In the last month of 2017 our retention fee messages on Twitter were delivered to over 25,000 feeds. We believe reminders like these help encourage payments to be made on time, which increased to 97% of the Register (up from 96% in 2016), and reduce the number of registrants we have to remove for non-payment which decreased to 1,182 in 2017 (from 1,433 in 2016).
In line with our commitment to seek continuous improvement of our services, in 2017 we worked hard to establish lines of communication with larger architectural practices we knew had paid for their employees in the past to ensure they knew payment deadlines and had accounted for all of their employees. Changes were also made to the way we reconcile bank payments and cheques, leading to greater efficiency in this area, and our letters, texts and emails were revised to ensure that our messages were clear, but lighter in their tone.
Twitter feeds received our retention fee messages
Equality and Diversity Data
We are committed to understanding how our work impacts those who use our services and improving our policies and procedures where appropriate to better meet their needs. We recognise the benefits to the profession and ARB as an organisation of drawing on a broader range of talent and believe following equality principles will result in better informed decision-making and policy outcomes. We began collecting equality and diversity (E&D) data from registrants in 2012 and new admissions to our Register are asked to answer equality and diversity questions. A review in February 2018 showed we held data for 52% of the Register, up from 47% of the Register in 2016.
Our Registration team includes experienced members of staff with expertise in regulatory policy and UK and European Union law. Through them we participate in European forums and meetings with other regulators to share best practice, and are well placed to support ARB in ensuring we can deliver our statutory duties effectively when the impact of the UK leaving the European Union becomes clearer. In 2017, we attended the Architects’ Council of Europe’s Annual General Meeting and worked closely with our counterparts in the European Network of Architectural Competent Authorities to ensure a consistent understanding of the European Union law which underpins much of our work.
The Register of Architects
We strive to ensure the Register is accurate and accessible as it allows architects to identify themselves as qualified professionals and enables potential users of architects’ services to find an architect and check they are registered.
By the end of 2017:
- The Register of Architects had increased to 39,987, up from 38,511 at the end of 2016
- The number of women making up the Register increased by 1% from the previous year
- The Register was 73% male and 27% female
- New admissions dropped to 2,385 from 2,507 in 2016
- Those registering by obtaining UK qualifications was the highest ever at 1,440
- New admissions were 43% female and 57% male
- Jan-Feb 2017 reinstatements were processed in less than 2 working days on average (down from 4 working days in 2016)
- There were 4,761 visits to the ‘route finder’ webpage
Feedback received in 2017 suggests those applying via the various routes to registration navigated the webpages with ease.
- Male 57%
- Female 43%
Maintaining Up-to-Date Registered Addresses
To ensure the Register is accurate, architects are obliged to provide us with an up-to-date registered address. We take a variety of steps to support architects meeting this obligation, including contacting those for whom we have received returned post. We have found that architects with email addresses on their record are far less likely to be removed for non-payment of the retention fee than those without, so regularly reach out to individuals without email addresses to encourage them to provide one. We also use our Ebulletins and social media posts to remind architects to update their details. In addition, all those joining the Register now have access to the Welcome Pack mentioned above. We hope this will further assist architects in remembering to update their contact details and reduce the number of those removed under Section 11 of the Act in the long term.
In 2017, we:
- Contacted 355 architects whose ARB post had been returned to us
- Resolved 341 of these address issues
- Removed 14 individuals from the Register as required under Section 11 of the Architects Act 1997
The Prescribed Examination
Our Board prescribes (recognises) the UK qualifications individuals must hold in order to enter the Architects Register. If an individual holds a non-EU qualification or a qualification not recognised in the UK they will need to pass the Examination for Equivalence Prescribed Qualifications (also known as the ‘Prescribed Examination’) at the relevant level to register as an architect in the UK. The Prescribed Examination is supported by examiners appointed by our Board. We aim to maintain a pool of around 35 examiners and up to six independent examiners.
During 2017 we:
- Recruited 14 new examiners to be integrated into their role in 2018
- Successfully integrated 17 new examiners (recruited in 2016) and 3 independent examiners without any disruption to the business or integrity of the examination process.
- Delivered a training event involving almost fifty examiners and independent examiners
In recruiting examiners we made efforts to contact as wide and diverse a range of architects as we possibly could, advertising in a number of online and hard copy publications and through a range of social media groups. Live portfolios, donated for the day by past exam candidates, were used as part of the training event.
Online facilities enable applicants to access our services at a time and place which is convenient to them. Feedback about these facilities received from those joining the Register during the course of 2017 was very positive, with 97% of respondents being satisfied with the service overall (an increase of 4% since 2016) and 96% being satisfied with the speed in which their application was processed (an increase of 7% since 2016).
Feedback from Prescribed Examination candidates during the course of 2017 also indicated the Criteria and Graduate Attributes information can be difficult to understand, this feedback will be considered by our Criteria Task and Finish group in 2018.