On the 18th June 2016 in Sheffield was held an ASN conference on the topic ‘Collaborating across borders’. As a result of the meeting a small manifesto was produced with regards to the topic. The ASN team wants to promote awareness and action upon the following issues:

Manifesto – fairness, flexibility, transparency, equality

  1. Issue: Loose control on the quality of the course – year duration and the intensity of Validation Boards.
  • Proposal: Course validation criteria (independent body). Incorporating year feedback from the student body – direct link between students and the RIBA Validation process.
  1. Issue: Student and staff interaction. There are existing barriers in communication.
  • Proposal: Better student involvement. Better integration between teaching and research.
  1. Issue: Staff contracts.
  • Proposal: Better transparency about teaching and research contracts. Do not separate them. Make sure that staff are available for students to talk to.
  1. Issue: Staff skill set. How to maintain quality control, staff knowledge?
  • Proposal: Pairing senior and junior academic staff.
  1. Issue: How to get students from different backgrounds to mix?
  • Proposal: Encouraging group work elements and modules within the course. Requirement to have a group work? Relating back to practice based environment.
  • Encouraging a more collaborative and less competitive school environment. Group work is hard to assess? Module breakdown between group and individual projects.
  1. Issue: Year Out Visa applications and requirement to have the work experience.
  • Proposal: There needs to be support for a recognized year out course (registered with the university) in order for architecture students to obtain a working visa. Sandwich course model. Bath model?
  1. Issue: Year out and flexibility of recording professional work
  • Proposal: PEDRs and flexibility of recording work before bachelor’s degree. PDP becomes part of the PEDR? Same format – ease of transition.
  1. Issue: Not enough communication skills being taught at university course. Standing up and presenting your work could be quite stressful and is the one point in time that everybody is in the same boat.
  • Proposal: Support for public speaking classes within the first year of education, focus on soft skills and communication.
  1. Issue: Crit model – disenfranchising students (international, language skills, quiet, shy)
  • Proposal: Familiarity with design? Scaling up of presentations (progression of numbers throughout the year). Different peer group to review you.
  1. Issue: Collaboration between universities is very limited and frankly non-existent.
  • Proposal: Introduction of an ‘exchange program’? Universal module? Bilateral agreement between different universities. Twin universities?
  1. Issue: Language requirements? (Coming to the UK, going to another university in Europe?)
  • Proposal: Universities – lower requirements should mean more support. Transparency about the level of language required. Standardised.
  1. Issue: Collaboration and knowledge exchange could be limited – lack of mentoring schemes
  • Proposal: Mentoring schemes within departments should be encouraged.
  1. Issue: Marketing and miss-selling of courses
  • Proposal: Courses need to communicate the differences between different degree programmes. Length of the degree and qualification process required. UCAS – page explaining the difference. BA, BArch, BSc
  1. Issue: Transferability of qualifications – Part 1, 2 etc. – international recognition. Less options for internationals.
  • Proposal: More internationally recognised. Disadvantages international students that do not complete the full qualification process. Explore avenues in recognising the degree.
  1. Issue: Visa – Salary requirements/ Flexible system (illness) / Northern Brain drain (international brain drain) – limiting the vibrancy of the workforce
  • Proposal: The RIBA to top-up salaries? Flexibility of visa extensions / lowering the cap of the salary requirement or having regional specific linked to average earning income? Average of an architecture salary (RIBA Salary Benchmark).
  1. Issue: Humanities are taught from a western perspective.
  • Proposal: Teach from a global perspective.
  1. Issue: PEDR starting point and requirement.
  • Proposal: Start PEDR earlier, more flexible system to complete work experience.
  1. Issue: Over-assessing student courses and visa requirements to pass first time, stress, competition
  • Proposal: Move away from over-assessing – PASS or FAIL system. Medicine model? Portfolio based model.

Quality control: What is a first from one university to another?


  1. Part 1 courses to communicate the differences in BArch BA Bsc etc. and the possible routes and outcomes from such courses especially to international students (E.g. eligibility for sandwich courses)


  1. The brand of RIBA part 1 as a qualification is not internationally recognised everywhere – instances of Thai students and EU students being qualified in some places but not in others.
  2. The global classification of BArch Bsci DipArch are not transferable, and in a global jobs market it often leaves some graduates disadvantaged.


  1. RIBA to create a fund to top up salaries of students not able to meet the salary requirements for visas
  2. FLEXABLE SYSTEM WITH VISAS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS. The Visa system doesn’t allow for re-sitting etc. which puts much more pressure on students to only pass first time. We’re not robots – it is about learning progression.
  3. Salary top-ups for the rest of the UK: With a visa requirement for a high salary it is forcing international graduates can only find work in London


  1. Humanities should teach a global viewpoint.
  2. Recognise ALL work experience earlier in a part 1 – start PEDR’s early. Helps international students get future work experience.
  3. Move away from the over assessment – it gives greater freedom of exploration, and also encourages students to pitch to their interests within the jobs market rather than seeing the pass / fail.
    1. Additionally the student mental health
    2. Makes it less competitive
    3. Develop yourself rather than compete
  4. The part 1-2-3 system doesn’t fairly reward international students who don’t fully complete the system.

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