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What does The Way Ahead mean for the profession and RIBA members?

RIBA President Alan Jones sets out the future for architectural education and professional development by introducing The Way Ahead.

07 September 2020

Clients, the industry and society are assured that chartered architects, chartered practices and schools of architecture are at their best because of their association with the RIBA and its values and requirements.

Like all primary professions, to ensure the architect’s position is indispensable and relevant, our profession needs to attain and demonstrate competencies that the world and society expects and needs, now and into the future. It is important that we have standards of education and practice that reflect the ethical challenges, environmental concerns and knowledge requirements that will shape the future role of the architect. We have been hearing from members for some time that in order to secure this future, a recasting is necessary: of architectural education and professional development.

As we continue to lobby government to make changes, levelling up opportunity within procurement and promoting the use of architects across society, there is pressure on architects to evolve and adapt.

In response to this need for adaption, over the last few years we have been consulting with our expert committees and have put together a new approach. There have been many discussions within the RIBA Council and members, through their elected RIBA Council representatives, have supported proposals along the way. We have now published these conclusions in The Way Ahead: our new education and professional development framework.

The Way Ahead: our direction of travel

The Way Ahead sets out a direction of travel for both future education and future professional development of UK chartered architects. It is not definitive — it is the beginning of a conversation and consultation — and listening is far from over. Our next step is to obtain feedback from the wider membership and other stakeholders, such as sole practitioners, future architects, practice owners and schools of architecture, about how best to develop and implement the outlined plans, introducing them gradually from 2021 onwards. Some will say that is too slow, others too fast. We are keen to find a way forward that minimises concerns and maximises the benefits and positive impact.

I would like to thank all those who have helped shaped the plans so far. As a result of their contributions, the new framework places a much greater emphasis on vitally important areas such as health and life safety, the climate emergency and professional ethics.

The framework’s key components

A single career-long standard

For the first time, the RIBA is setting out a single standard covering pre and post registration education and professional development, recognising that architectural education and development is a lifelong endeavour.

Education themes and values for RIBA Part 1 and Part 2 study

New education themes and values focus on the social purpose of architecture, protection of the end user, climate literacy, technology, research and business skills.

Mandatory Competences

Chartered architects will be expected to have developed during their education and practical training through a set of Mandatory Competences, which will then be subject to retesting every five years to retain chartered membership. This could be compared to certain existing CPD and training, which has a final question and answer session to confirm attendance and a grasp of the issues.

Health and Life Safety will be introduced as a Mandatory Competence in 2022 with further proposed Mandatory Competences to follow. Proposals in The Way Ahead for Climate Literacy, Ethics and Social Purpose and Research Literacy as Mandatory Competences are subject to discussion and further approval.

The RIBA will provide free online CPD in relation to all Mandatory Competences and the testing/re-validation process will not be subject to any charging, but will become a condition of continuing chartered membership.

By complying with RIBA Mandatory Competence requirements for Health and Life Safety, members will be able to demonstrate their competence to act as designers under the terms set out in the notes to the draft Building Safety Bill.

Five defined Career Role Levels

Five Career Role Levels help frame learning and development:

  • Student (Pre-Part 1)
  • Emerging Professional (Part 1 and Part 2 Assistant)
  • Established Professional (Architect less than five years qualified)
  • Experienced Professional (Architect more than five years qualified)
  • Business Leader (Director/Partner).

10 topic CPD Core Curriculum

The RIBA mandatory 10 topic CPD Core Curriculum includes a minimum of two hours of free CPD required annually under each topic and this element remains unchanged in the proposals.


Advanced specialisms will be formally recognised under the new framework. This will include Principal Designer accreditation for the new, enhanced duty holder role set out in the notes to the draft Building Safety Bill. This will also acknowledge that beyond core competencies the complexity and richness of our profession and industry encourages some to focus expertise in certain areas.

What are the next steps?

Education of future architects

We will be working with schools of architecture and students on how we can best support them and implement the framework: for example how the Mandatory Competences can best be developed across Parts 1, 2 and 3. We will provide a programme of free new core online learning resources, to supplement and guide what occurs inside validated programmes.

Chartered architects

We will be engaging widely with chartered architects and chartered practices before implementing the framework. It is important that we develop a shared understanding across the profession about the best way to attain and demonstrate our professional standards and we want to hear the views of our members. We will be making free CPD available on any Mandatory Competence subjects as we support the profession in future-proofing our educational and professional development systems.

What about ARB?

We will also be working closely with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) on their own review of competencies and believe that the two organisations are fairly aligned on the key challenges and opportunities for the profession.

The RIBA will continue to share the ARB education criteria for prescription of architecture courses, but our own course validation and continuing professional development systems and requirements will be updated to also comply with the new RIBA Education and Professional Development Framework.

We will support members every step of the way

We understand that change may be alarming for some, and we are keen to make sure that no one is disenfranchised or impacted disproportionately as the framework is phased in gradually over the next few years. Certainly we continue to be very mindful about the needs of smaller practices and sole practitioners, especially at this challenging time. We also have a particular focus on diversity for example, and will work to ensure that the new framework doesn’t add any barriers or burdens that are either unequitable or unreasonable.

Share your views with us

During the coming months, we will be holding a number of online open consultation sessions with members on the new RIBA Education and Professional Development Framework. Dates will be announced in due course.

We will also be continuing our discussions with key stakeholder groups, nations and regions and members across the world.

We want to know your views on the proposals set out in The Way Ahead. Send your feedback to

Read the full report.

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