JavaScript is required

Education, training and continuing professional development


  • University curricula and training programs for architects need to be responsive to recent and future disruptive changes to ensure that architects are ready to realise opportunities, overcome challenges and mitigate risks.
  • The adequacy of education and training for architects is being questioned in light of these changes.
  • Compliance with CPD requirements needs to improve to ensure that practitioners are well-positioned to respond to the changes.

A. Background

216. Rapid social, environmental, technological and economic changes are imposing new demands on architects and, consequently, also on the institutions and other bodies responsible for preparing them for these changes, including education and training providers. Education and training that are responsive to the current market context and likely future changes will be critically important to ensure that architects are equipped to face the various challenges and risks they may encounter in the course of providing architectural services.  This chapter considers some of the risks architects could face if this shift in education and training does not occur.

B. Key issues

The adequacy of education for architects is being questioned, particularly in light of recent disruptive change

217. Studies have been undertaken both abroad and closer to home that call into question the adequacy of the education of architects. For example, in 2022, the UK Architects Registration Board (UK ARB) undertook a survey of architects.  Over 80% of recruiting architects said that applicants lacked the levels of competence required by firms, primarily because of a lack of necessary skills and knowledge relating to building contracts, health and safety risks, and procurement.[1]  Further, a US study of the educational curriculum for architecture schools undertaken in 2022 found that topics like leadership, life cycle cost, and scheduling were lacking.[2]

218. The UK ARB specifically mentions climate change as a disruptive force and states that architects have a significant role to play in addressing it through robust sustainable practice and design. The report states that, if the profession is to be positioned to make a positive contribution towards mitigating the impact of their work on the environment, future architects must be equipped with the right blend of knowledge and skill, underpinned with a commitment to sustainability.[3]  This sentiment is echoed by the RIBA in introducing its new professional development framework for architects.  The RIBA states that ‘Change in architectural education is being demanded by those stakeholders who will succeed the current generation of practice and institutional leadership, including students, graduates, and emerging professionals, for many of whom the current business model of architectural practice sometimes seems to pay insufficient attention to the critical questions of designing first for health, safety and wellbeing, embracing creative environmental stewardship, and placing a greater emphasis on the ethical role of the architect. This change is supported by growing bodies of evidence, literature and commentary which must now animate the debate in our universities and, consequently, the profession.’[4]

219. However, the US study of university curricula finds that many recent undergraduate alumni feel a sense of obligation to protect the natural environment through their design efforts, but do not consider that they have tangible skills to do so.[5] Similarly, responses to a 2022 survey of Australian and NZ architecture schools undertaken by the AIA and the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia indicates high levels of concern about climate change and sustainability issues among both staff and students.[6]  Yet, students express concerns about their university learning lacking depth and practical context, which in turn impacts their perceptions of whether they have properly learned about a topic.[7]  In a similar vein, educators often perceive themselves as competent but not expert in matters of climate change, and express confidence in topic knowledge while sensing that they are lacking specialist knowledge and skills.[8]

220. As many university educators in Australia are also practitioners, CPD training will play an important role in addressing this apparent gap in knowledge and skills, although this measure will not be relevant for full-time university educators who are not practitioners. The lack of practical experience among at least some university educators could be problematic, particularly if this means that the curriculum is not sufficiently connected to the current context within which architects provide architectural services.

221. Iyer-Raniga and Dalton (2017) further suggest that educational changes in universities need to occur in tandem with other institutions, including government, peak industry bodies and the practitioners themselves.[9] In this regard, the AIA has noted that the 2021 NSCA embeds a greater emphasis on issues of climate change and sustainability.  Compliance with this standard is a pre-requisite for registration and will inform CPD for practising architects.[10]  Accreditation standards for universities offering architectural programs are also expected to change in line with the NSCA.

Compliance with continuing professional development requirements needs to improve

222. On the matter of CPD, under the Victorian Architects Act, architects are required to comply with CPD requirements and provide the ARBV with proof of compliance.[11] In NSW, the NSW ARB may remove an architect from the register if the architect has failed to comply with CPD requirements.[12]

223. Clearly, CPD is critically important to ensure that architects are equipped on an ongoing basis to deal with the challenges and risks associated with the provision of architectural services. However, the NSW ARB notes that compliance with CPD requirements is patchy.  The ARBV considers that CPD compliance would be enhanced if specific requirements were prescribed in the Victorian Architects Regulation.

C. Findings

224. There is evidently much change underway in the market for architectural services. University curricula and training programs for architects need to be responsive to these changes to ensure that practitioners are ready to realise opportunities, overcome challenges and mitigate the risks that these changes are likely to entail.  Equally, compliance with CPD requirements – particularly components relevant to the sectoral changes faced by architects – needs to improve.

D. Regulatory role

225. Given the importance of CPD in preparing architects for disruptive change, the ARBV and NSW ARB will continue to monitor compliance with CPD requirements.

E. Role of other stakeholders

226. It would be prudent for relevant education, training and standard-setting bodies to revisit their education and training programs to ensure that they adequately prepare and support architects in the face of disruptive change.

F. Implications and recommendations



Implications and recommendations



The ARBV and NSW ARB will continue to monitor CPD compliance.


Education and training providers

Relevant education, training and standard-setting bodies should revisit their education and training programs to ensure that they adequately prepare and support architects in the face of disruptive change.


[1] UK Architects Registration Board, Modernising the initial education and training of architects: Discussion Document (2022), at 12.

[2] F. Cruz Rios, D. Grau, & M. Bilec, ‘Barriers and Enablers to Circular Building Design in the US: An Empirical Study’ (2021) 147(10) Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, p. 04021117, at 10.

[3] Ibid. p. 6.

[4] RIBA, ‘The Way Ahead: An Introduction to the New RIBA Education and Professional Development Framework and an Overview of its Key Components’ (2020), at 6.

[5] E.J. Grant, ‘Mainstreaming environmental education for architects: The need for basic literacies’ (2020) 1(1) Buildings and Cities, p. 538.

[6] Australian Institute of Architects & Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia, Climate Literacy & Action in Architecture Education: Australasian Perspectives (2022), at p. 6.

[7] Ibid. p. 15.

[8] Ibid. p. 9.

[9] U. Iyer-Raniga & T. Dalton, n. 256 above.

[10] Australian Institute of Architects, n. 302 above, p. 2.

[11] Section 15B of the Victorian Architects Act.

[12] Section 24(2)(g) of the NSW Architects Act.