There are various opinions, and even petitions on change.org re: the proposed Amendments to the Architects Act 1972. The most objections seem to stem from the changes being proposed to Introduce a new set of Professional Examinations that Fresh Graduates would need to take before they being registered as Architects.
Most of these objections can be summed up under three broad categories:
- That this proposed Examination is in itself undermining the education and its quality; especially when the institutes are already complying with, and regulated by, the Council of Architecture.
- That there would be students that would graduates (B.Arch degree holders) who either don’t pass, or don’t appear for these Examinations, and thus unable to register or call themselves “Architects”
- And finally, what about practicing professionals, who are already registered even though they haven’t gone through this exam? How can we be sure if they are competent enough to work / practice/ be Architects?
I think the intent of this (now contentious!) amendment needs to be examined, before each of these can be addressed.
The principal intent, and the NEED for this amendment, stems from the dichotomy currently existing in regulating Architectural Education. For years, this has been a hotly contested issue between the AICTE and the COA, and the cases and issues raised are legendary! In a way, the Council, through this amendment, is realizing that the REAL purpose of the Act is NOT to regulate the education, but the end Product. This is fundamentally correct, and especially as in many aspects, the Council is not able to ensure adequate quality control; in fact there have been vociferous objections raised to the Council trying to regulate Education as well, saying that they are “over-standardising” the education system.
After all, the Council only ensures that the infrastructure, faculty, broad curriculum, and intake is as per standards: it DOES NOT set question papers, nor does it really know who the institutes deem to graduate, and why.
This is really the answer to objection No. 1, raised above.
The fundamental principle that this highlights is that the REAL mandate of the Council is to ensure that ANYONE who can legally claim to be an Architect, has a particular level of expertise, and thus would not cause harm to society. A qualifying examination, at the end of the course (or in fact, any approved course), conducted directly by the COA, is a perfectly valid way of doing this.
The second issue is about students who have a valid B.Arch degree, and yet cannot (or do not) pass the examination. What happens to them? Well, as with many other professions, (eg those that are studying to be Chartered Accountants), these students would need to spend time and work with registered Architects, and through professional experience, hone their skills and gain the expertise needed to qualify the exam.
In essence, this would prevent all but the really sound Graduates from jumping straight from the College to starting up their own Architectural consultancy (at least at the scale that can be potentially harmful to society).
The third issue is more complex: what about Architects who are already registered? It would be against common law (and common sense!) to need them to go through an exam or lose their registration, and at the same time, to ignore them would mean that for the next 20-30 years, the impact of this change would NOT be felt in ensuing an enhanced quality of professionals in the market.
The solution to this would like with introducing CEPP’s or Continuing education programmes for Professionals. There would be a certain minimum CEPP credits that each Architect would need to accumulate each year (or 2 years / 5 years). The CEPP credits would come from either Conferences, presenting papers, conducting research, studying for masters or PHD’s, teaching, or even attending specialized training classes.
If these changes are indeed tabled and go through the arduous process of conversion from a Bill to an Act through the Parliament of India, the Council of Architecture would have achieved one of the biggest reforms that the Profession of Architecture has seen since 1972.
I hope all professionals look at this Architects (Amendment) Bill 2018 seriously and send in their support and suggestions to the COA, so that the profession can continue to benefit Society.
Ameet Babbar is a practicing Architect & Landscape Architect based in New Delhi.
He is a Partner of Babbar & Babbar Architects, one of the leading Architectural Firms in India, which has designed prominent and acclaimed projects all over India and the Middle East. He is also actively involved in academics and is currently visiting faculty at the Masters Programme in Landscape at the School of Planning & Architecture in New Delhi.