Our Role: Qualifications

We set the UK standard of entry to our Register of Architects by determining what UK qualifications and practical training experience individuals must hold in order to enter. We have Criteria that individuals must meet and Procedures for checking that the qualifications individuals hold meet these requirements. In addition our Board grants prescription (recognition) to qualifications in architecture and we monitor these qualifications to ensure standards in delivery are maintained.

Liaison Visits

We offer liaison visits to all providers of prescribed qualifications across the UK. We deliver sessions to students undertaking these qualifications explaining ARB’s role and what regulation means to help prepare them for being part of a regulated profession. We continued to have a strong uptake of our offers in 2017 and welcomed the opportunity to engage with students and institutions, to develop relationships and to help them understand the professional expectations for architects. Further information about the liaison visits conducted this year can be found in the Facts & Figures – Qualifications section of this report.


In 2017 we supported the work of the Architecture Trailblazer Group by attending meetings and advising the group of ARB’s requirements for prescription and registration. The apprenticeship schemes have been developed with the aim of enabling individuals to achieve qualifications which can be accepted for the purposes of registration making it important the framework aligns with ARB’s requirements. It is anticipated that the Institute for Apprenticeships will approve the standards and end-point assessment documents in 2018, after which the first apprenticeship schemes will be developed and become operational in late 2018. In the year ahead we intend to develop guidance to support institutions seeking to offer prescribed qualifications within the apprenticeship framework.

Planning Meetings

We host planning meetings to support institutions considering applying for prescription for their courses. They are used to explain our prescription process and provide advice on making a submission.

In 2017, we:

  • Took part in 14 planning discussions

First Time Prescription of Qualifications

We operate an independent process to determine whether our Board can grant prescription to qualifications offered by universities and schools of architecture who submit applications for their qualifications.

By the end of 2017:

  • 13 new qualifications from 9 institutions were prescribed
  • 6 institutions with no history of offering prescribed qualifications made submissions
  • The number of institutions delivering prescribed qualifications increased by 11%

new qualifications prescribed

Renewal of Prescriptions

Institutions offering prescribed qualifications can apply to renew prescriptions on a regular basis. Qualifications are usually prescribed for a period of four or five years but on occasion shorter or longer periods are requested.

During 2017, the Board:

  • Renewed the prescription of 38 qualifications offered by 14 institutions

renewed prescriptions

Annual Monitoring Submissions

Prescribed qualifications are subject to an annual monitoring process to ensure students gaining the award continue to meet the required Criteria. A range of information must be viewed but we encourage institutions to submit material they have prepared for other purposes to avoid undue burden.

In 2017, we:

  • Received and processed 40 annual monitoring submissions, involving 104 qualifications
  • Took 4.5 weeks on average to process a submission


We collect feedback from the institutions applying to renew prescription on an annual basis. These valuable insights are then used to inform the development of prescription guidance materials. This year, ten institutions provided us with feedback on the process.

Comments included:


‘…the advice was timely and sound.’

‘Make it clearer what is required – it is easy to include too much information on the application.’

‘It [the Good Practice Handbook] … was found to be extremely useful. The good practice examples are very helpful.’

‘…it may be worth considering the need to update ‘good practice’ to reflect contemporary developments in the regulatory context.’

‘The ability to reference material held by ARB is very helpful in reducing time spent in preparation. Most of the documentation prepared involved updating an existing submission template.’

‘There was a lot of duplication engendered by the form… there were many files that sat in more than one area.’

‘The Board paper is an excellent document that helps me brief my colleagues about the purpose and key parameters for the Board decision on prescription.’

‘It is valuable to take stock and reflect on practices if for no other reason than to improve what you do.’

In regards to the constructive feedback we received:

  • We will continue to update the Good Practice Handbook as needed over the next year, ahead of a more significant revision following the outcome of the Criteria and Procedures reviews
  • We updated our planning meeting presentation so that it highlights the key documents the various application processes require
  • ‘Information for Schools of Architecture’ is now clearly signposted on the homepage of our website
  • We included more details, aligned with our Good Practice Handbook, on what we are looking for to enable institutions to identify documentation (including those which apply across multiple qualifications) more easily. Any changes arising from the review of our Procedures are likely to necessitate a review of the Application Form which will be a further opportunity to improve the form.