Accreditation of Architecture Programs
The Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure in Australia and New Zealand sets out the peer review process through which all architecture programs in Australia are assessed against the accreditation standard over five years or ten semester equivalence of learning cycle.
The eight state and territory architect registration boards have statutory responsibility for the accreditation of architectural programs of study within their jurisdictions. Programs accredited in one jurisdiction are recognised in any other jurisdiction in Australia and New Zealand.
For the purposes of accreditation, architecture programs are required to demonstrate that graduates meet 37 of the 70 Performance Criteria in the National Standard of Competency for Architects.
Assessment for accreditation occurs through the conduct of an Accreditation Review Panel composed of practicing architects and academics selected from the Accreditation Standing Panel. The Accreditation Review Panel makes a recommendation on whether and for how long a program should be accredited. Whilst full details are contained in the Procedure and associated Guidance documents, these resource diagrams are helpful for understanding the key activities and timeframes for Accreditation Review Panels and associated reporting:
- Resource – Diagram: Key Provider and Panel Activities for an Accreditation Review Panel
- Resource – Diagram: Accreditation Review Panel Report and Accreditation Decision
By agreement, architect registration boards are guided by the recommendations of the Accreditation Review Panel, however they are not bound to accept those recommendations. A decision by an architect registration board not to grant accreditation is usually reviewable under the administrative appeals arrangements applying in the respective state or territory.
The Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure in Australia and New Zealand came into effect from 1st January 2018. Amendments have been incorporated into the Accreditation Procedure in May 2018, December 2019 and December 2020. Amendments are considered to take effect from the time of publishing. The amendments include a small number of material changes and a larger volume of procedural clarifications. There has been no material change to the underpinning focus of the Procedure, which is to assess that architecture programs are designed to enable a graduate to achieve the required 37 Performance Criteria of the National Standard of Competency for Architects.
The Accreditation Procedure comprises an overarching Procedural document, Terms of Reference for the Accreditation Management Committee, Code of Conduct and nine supporting Guidance documents. The complete 58 page procedural document set can be downloaded from this link. Embedded document links will open individual Guidance and other supporting documents as standalone PDFs. All documents are available from the AACA Publications page.
Accredited architecture qualifications
See here for the list of accredited qualifications.
In Australia, the accredited qualification is normally the Master of Architecture degree. Bachelor-level degrees are not accredited. In practice, most students first complete the provider’s designated pathway qualification at Bachelor level. This Bachelor level qualification is specifically intended to dovetail with the provider’s Masters degree and to expose students progressively to the required concepts and skills for entry to the Master of Architecture. Providers may also accept students into their Masters degree from a variety of prior education experiences, in accordance with the provider’s policies.
The Accreditation Procedure only applies to qualifications in Australia and (under licence) in New Zealand. Qualifications from other countries (excepting Hong Kong where Australia has Mutual Recognition Agreements in place) are individually assessed under the Overseas Qualifications Assessment process.
Students wanting to study architecture and become an architect in Australia should consider the information in this document: Information for students.
The Accreditation Standing Panel
The Accreditation Standing Panel comprises independent experts who have the necessary expertise and capacity to serve on Accreditation Review Panels. The criteria for inclusion on the Accreditation Standing Panel are skills-based and subject to a nomination, selection and review process.
Nominations to the Panel are normally for a term of three years, commencing on 1 July of the year of nomination. Nominations may be submitted by individuals directly to the Secretariat at any time and will be referred to stakeholder organisations for endorsement on an annual basis between April and June. Nominations must be submitted on the Nomination Form, and must address the relevant attributes and competency selection criteria as described in the Guidance. The stakeholder organisation that is endorsing a nomination must be confident that the applicant demonstrates the required selection criteria
The Accreditation Standing Panel membership is updated annually in July and can be accessed here.
Governance and management of the Accreditation Procedure
The Board of the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia, on behalf of the architect registration boards, is responsible for the governance of the Procedure and the Secretariat, with referral of matters back to the relevant State or Territory Architect Registration Board as required. Certain governance functions are separately delegated to the Accreditation Management Committee.
The Accreditation Management Committee is responsible for providing advice on the management and implementation of the Procedure and providing strategic, high quality advice to the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia Board in order to implement a transparent and fair Procedure in Australia. The Committee does not accredit programs. You can read more about the Committee in the Procedure and you can read their Terms of Reference here.
The Committee was established in late 2017. Updated membership from January 2021:
- Dr Lara Mackintosh – nominee of the Australian Institute of Architects
- Dr Kirsten Orr – nominee of the Australian State and Territory Architect Registration Boards
- Mr Paul Boyce – nominee of the Australian State and Territory Architect Registration Boards
- Prof Sandra Kaji-O’Grady – nominee of the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia
- Mr Stephen Ward (Chairperson) – nominee of the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia.
The Committee membership is normally comprised of a representative from each of the 5 stakeholder organisations noted in the Procedure. At the end of 2020 the Australian Deans of Built Environment and Design (ADBED) did not provide a nomination for the Committee for 2021-2023. The AACA Board approved the Architect Registration Boards providing a second nominee to join the Committee.
There are a number of frequently asked questions (and answers) on the AACA FAQ page. This includes FAQs about the Knowledge Domains and how Providers should report changes in their accredited programs.
All important documents including the Procedure and associated Guidance documents, Reporting Templates and Stakeholder Update Reports can be found on the AACA Publications page.