One imagines that it was with mixed emotions that the architects of the future have recently opened their A-level results, Given they have five years at university ahead of them it is inevitable that they will catch the onset of nine thousand pounds a year tuition fees, and it remains to be seen what type of professional world they will enter upon completion of their course. Who would enter any profession, especially one which no longer is well paid, knowing that you will have debts in excess of £50,000 ahead of you?
Whilst we hope that students will ‘come’ to architecture as a genuine vocation, the tuition fees debate has somewhat taken the exhilaration out of embarking on a university career, which will be very different from that experienced by architects in recent decades. This year, competition for university places is at its most fierce and only sweetened by being the last year under the current fee regime. Yet somehow, architecture still needs to call, attract and inspire the architects of tomorrow into following a path into a highly emotionally rewarding and engaging profession.
Speaking at the Royal Academy of Arts recently, Graham Boyce from Red Box Design Group addressed A-level students doing exactly that; explaining to them “How to Become an Architect.” Students on the Royal Academy attRAact programme are given additional tutoring in art and design across a range of disciplines in and attempt to nurture them into a career in one of the many sectors of design, including architecture.
Graham used his own career to explain that architects not only design buildings but need to care about the kind of environments they create for the people who use them and the wider society at large, for whom we have a unique responsibility and meaningful duty of care.
Describing the day to day role and the skills required to be an architect the students also learnt about what kind of course they might be entering, certainly one of the most demanding to be taken at university. Having been involved with young and emerging architects and set up ‘The Social’ when he acted as a Co-opted Councillor at RIBA London, Graham has a broad view of how those entering the profession have found the situation in recent years.
Ensuring that students are enthused by the achievements of the profession and that they are given the best opportunities by higher education is the key securing the future of a profession of which we can be proud.