drop out rates of architecture students

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drop out rates of architecture students

The drop out rates of architecture students are very high and according to this article by Susie Beesley only 18% of students starting out in first year will ever register to practice as architects. The article also talks of the system of assessing project work - the crit which can involve "belittling" and bullying".

In research carried out titled Why do women leave architecture? by Ann de Graft-Johnson, Sandra Manley and Clara Greed - University of the West of England, Bristol, May 2003 one respondent wrote, 
"...You could pass every other aspect of the course with 100 per cent, but if your design work was not favoured, you were left to rot. I cannot stress strongly enough how favouritist this school is. It is not a sexist issue, but a taste issue in terms or what design style is “flavour of the month” with certain tutors."
The evidence is mounting and there is a lot of discussion at the moment as to how the system of educating our architects could be replaced with something more humane. There are few jobs in architectural firms (hundreds of qualified architects chasing a single job) and only 3% of new build housing uses the services of a architect. Yet the 46 architecture schools continue to take in and fail people as they please - if their designs do not pass muster. Students are being made seriously ill in the process (you just need to read some of the comments from distressed architecture students on the online forums) to realise that this is not an exaggeration.

Many of the 18% who do succeed in becoming architects will have repeated one or more years at some point. Few pass all five years first time. It is profitable for the schools to get students to repeat years, especially further up the school. Who isn't going to repeat fifth year? Well, I know one woman who didn't but usually people will beg and borrow to repeat the year as their whole future career is dependent on getting that piece of paper. The woman I mentioned was failed at the end of fifth year at the Mackintosh School of Architecture (GSA) after completing Part 1 at The Barlett and she is probably the most impressive person I have ever known. She was told by a tutor of architecture that she, "read too many books".

The thing is, the judge, jury and executioner are not always the hugely, creative intelligent characters you might expect making the decisions that will have a huge baring on the rest of your life. Some tutors, professors even, seem intent on destroying a student both emotionally and financially and making sure they NEVER BECOME ARCHITECTS. Perhaps this is to ensure that they get the small amount of work that is going around. Architecture tutors/visiting lecturers are almost always involved in private practice. Their incentives could even be to keep the most able/talented ones out of the profession. I'd believe anything of them after what they did to me. But I have no feelings of bitterness now.

My reasons for writing BRICK WALL are:

1) to inform people of the risks of studying architecture at any school in the uk.
2) to find other people (there must be thousands) who have been similarly badly treated and to let them realise that it is the architecture education system at fault, not them. Only two weeks ago after publishing my book (with no help at all at marketing it) former architecture students have already been in touch and shared their traumatic stories). One says, "The system made me mentally and physically ill to tell you the truth, and I doubt that I will ever recover from it. This is exactly what I was expecting.
3) to help campaign for change in the way we train our architects. The current system is clearly not working.

As the article by Susie Beesley (mentioned above) says at the end, "Our students are being given false promises. Racking up debt whilst spending years of their young lives pursuing a dream that has no hope of becoming reality."


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