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Tertiary Education

edited October 2005 in architecture
I am a current architectural student. I cant even put my frustrations with the tertiary education system into few words.

To begin with, I have never seen such dis-organisation, misguided instruction and teaching as I have at my current place of study. We have a year of 100% willing and eager students looking to get the skill and knowledge they need to get out there and be sucessful. We however are not provided with this. We are given next to no architectural design education, and a mixed bag of irrelevant subjects in addition each semester. I entered the course with the intention of gaining practical skill, but this is not the case. Anything i have learnt, i have done so on my own, in my own time. Some of the staff are very good, and give thier all in helping students. Most, with reference to design education, push thier own perogatives and ideas onto students, of which, are highly unrealistic and unconventional solutions to problems. In the end of each semester, you end up with a bunch of schemes which are utter unrealistic garbage that a preschool child could produce. But the idea is, as long as thier is a strong concept, and is show in the design, that makes a successfull project.
Im at a total loss with the system.
I am in a difficult position, as i am coming from a different background of study,and can make decent earnings with my current work. But i am looking to make the shift into architectural work, and would have to virtually give up these earnings which i need, and take a reduced amount as an architectural student employee. In addition, i do not feel confident in participating in architectural work, as i dont believe i have the technical knowledge and skills to be involved.

In all, the tertiary architectural education system seems to comprise of a majority of misguided, Incompetent so called theorists of architecture, who cant cut in in the real world. Giving the wrong knowledge and skills to students.

Theres too much elitism, and too heavy an emphasis on the so called art, and theory aspects and notions of what architecture is. No inclusion of the actual skills, knowledge, technology, construction and practice issues. Things are in a disgraceful state in my opinion. Obviously, many of you may not agree.
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Comments

  • edited January 1970
    This post has been seperated out from the Wages & Conditions thread.
  • edited January 1970
    What school do you go to? It doesn't sound like the recent education I had.
  • edited January 1970
    do a building technology course if your bullshitometer is maxing out.
  • edited January 1970
    the architecture degree is far too long and expensive with an average HECS debt of $30,000 - then you graduate and get paid f**k-all and have to pay it off for the next 10 years! :evil:

    Arch education could be condensed to one 4 year degree and be all design and history. Then you should be 'apprenticed' in a firm and learn technical stuff on the job... or do another technical relate degree/course.
  • edited January 1970
    The bulsh** meter is certainly overloaded. The way most of the course is run is way too laid back and unprofessional.

    I agree goose, your spot on.
  • edited January 1970
    also, i agree, the building technology course seems 100% better than arch. at university. Alot of the people in my year had previously done that course, and just shake thier heads at whats going on in this one.
  • edited January 1970
    Don't get me wrong, i had a great education at Uni Melbourne - it was great to be a uni student for that long!

    But the fact is you emerge into the real world in your mid-20s with nothing except that piece of paper with honours - meanwhile your mates have already been earning a decent $50,000+ wage after a 3-4 year 'vocational' degree and are putting deposits on a house, car etc, whilst the new arch graduate can look forward to a turbulent, ill paid 2-5 year slog to get registered to finally get some 'leverage' with employers.

    Then you can finally 'start' your career as another frustrated Architect!

    The days of architecture being a prestigious 'old man's profession' that somehow ranks amomgst doctors and lawyers are a very distant memory - architecture should be a shorter degree, with a lot more rigour in the core learning areas than is currently offered by most uni's.
  • edited January 1970
    goose wrote:
    the architecture degree is far too long and expensive with an average HECS debt of $30,000 - then you graduate and get paid f**k-all and have to pay it off for the next 10 years! :evil:

    Arch education could be condensed to one 4 year degree and be all design and history. Then you should be 'apprenticed' in a firm and learn technical stuff on the job... or do another technical relate degree/course.

    So what would you be qualified to do after 4 years?
  • edited January 1970
    I'm glad to see someone raise the topic of poor education.

    I too suffered the years in the wilderness, building cardboard Geodisic domes in public parks and enduring other pointless experiments conjoured up from 'dead wood' lecturers who puffed a little hard in 74' and the eager halucinations of the techno-avante garde who firmly believe they have wrested the batton of debate straight from the hands of almighty Corb with a mission to enlighten the next generation.

    As a practising designer in another field, then deciding I wanted to do more, I was shocked at the lack of technical training and like most other people had to do it myself, while at the same time, recieving instruction from wannabe's who would justify tying their shoelaces in a different way as some sort of radical breakthrough.

    At the time no-one believed me when I told them the goings on at Uni.
    I once took my girlfriend into a subject selection night so she could see the insanity for herself....

    Now I have the piece of paper and have framed it next to the other flimsy bit of wrag, things dont seem so bad, but I am still paying off a 10K HECS debt and after working in a few places until I could escape, I am still encountering things that should have been taught from day 1 at Uni.


    No, its not good enough.
    Perhaps some older and wiser practitioners should be lured back in to the system to create some order and balance to the current digital freakshow.
    Why is a little training in technical areas such an embarrassing thing?
    Drop the bad attitude and get back to basics, the 'profession' is being whittled away.

    As we speak there are 40 students out in Exhibition gardens with a Stanley knife and a sheet of cardboard ....
  • edited January 1970
    M wrote:
    goose wrote:
    the architecture degree is far too long and expensive with an average HECS debt of $30,000 - then you graduate and get paid f**k-all and have to pay it off for the next 10 years! :evil:

    Arch education could be condensed to one 4 year degree and be all design and history. Then you should be 'apprenticed' in a firm and learn technical stuff on the job... or do another technical relate degree/course.

    So what would you be qualified to do after 4 years?

    The same as what you're qualified to do now! I'm saying lets speed things up and fast-track the process. As it is, you can't call yourself an Architect after six years.

    The most important educational period now is those post grad years before you get registered. If you want to be an Architect you must get registered - and that requires experience in the real world.
  • edited January 1970
    I'm really at a loss what to say. I was told about this site and decided to explore. i'm a student representative on the archi student panel at Rmit and couldn't disagree with you more.

    There are some huge issues within the system, there is also a lack of talent also in the course. You don't study Architecture for a lucrative career, its a passion, like writing or music, you can never expect to earn big dollars without pain and suffering and inspiration. Life is our muse and if you look at all great architects it was never about the money.

    Sure building design and construction is a 'solid' degree, but if you look to melbourne suburbs and cast your discerning eye over the little boxes and modern victorian/georgian crap that is springing up you will understand the desperate need for architects not mere drafties. We are artists!!! We should be pushing boundaries and making mistakes and being frustrated and trying to succeed because we need to be passionate and proud and believe in what we do.

    Have you gone to your student committee with suggestions about how to improve your education. Your adults now, your life and career are in your hands, what do you expect our teaches to do? They are there to guide us as we become designers and thinkers, they are not there to spoon feed us what to believe and design.

    Why did you do this degree, ask yourself what was your motivation and then you will find the reason for your frustration!

    Be your own critic and be harsh and mayby our environment will be better and people will actually respect Architects and not just call them wankers with no idea.
  • edited January 1970
    goose wrote:
    M wrote:
    goose wrote:
    the architecture degree is far too long and expensive with an average HECS debt of $30,000 - then you graduate and get paid f**k-all and have to pay it off for the next 10 years! :evil:

    Arch education could be condensed to one 4 year degree and be all design and history. Then you should be 'apprenticed' in a firm and learn technical stuff on the job... or do another technical relate degree/course.

    So what would you be qualified to do after 4 years?

    The same as what you're qualified to do now! I'm saying lets speed things up and fast-track the process. As it is, you can't call yourself an Architect after six years.

    The most important educational period now is those post grad years before you get registered. If you want to be an Architect you must get registered - and that requires experience in the real world.

    I dont know about you but I was pretty busy during those five years. I dont think I could have "sped things up".

    I came out of school with some practial knowledge (as I was working while studying) but a lot of theoretical knowledge (of the practical world). I feel that enables me to think for myself and make judgements based on a holistic knowledge of how things work.

    I dont think I would be able to do that if I had learnt about the real world by leaving school a year earlier and learning from some architect who doesn't have the time to teach me the basics. We would all end up just becoming clones of the people we work for. We would all end up doing things the easy (not right or professional) way. And we would have to learn it all over again in our next job.

    There is a place for theoretical teaching in universities. I would however say that there should be some cross over. You should be required to work in an architectural firm alongside your studies to get some sort of balance and see how the theory is put into practice.
  • edited January 1970
    Passionate and Proud,

    I agree with many of the points you have made, perhaps you should learn to spell and Punctuate in the correct manor before you start ranting though. Here are just a few suggestions:

    "there is also a lack of talent also in the course" also....also, how many also's do you need?

    "Have you gone to your student committee with suggestions about how to improve your education." That is a question not a statement. It should be punctuated with a question mark not a full stop.

    "Your adults now" (and should be able to spell and punctuate) You're adults now...

    There were a number of other examples but I need to get back to work.
  • edited January 1970
    'manor', nice one. People who live in glass houses....
  • edited January 1970
    I understand now, why you had so much trouble throughout your degree. Perhaps arrogance doesn't relate well to your teachers.

    Instead of reading my point of view and perhaps thinking about some interesting ways to respond, you simply choose to criticise punctuation.

    Many of the issues facing Architects in the 'real world' are their lack of ability to relate to others. People skills and being able to be diplomatic and assertive are essential skills when dealing with other people. I suspect 'your attitude' is the reason builders and most trade’s people hate Architects'. Perhaps you don't need a better education just some basic manners.

    Its no good if you can draw and design amazing buildings if no-one will work with you!

    Take care now and thankyou for reading.
  • edited January 1970
    Nice one knob.. I am one of those "mere" drafties you refer to in your "desperate need for architects not mere drafties" comment earlier. I agree that the suburban sprawl & design is a disgrace, and do whatever I can to persuade clients not to go down the "copy this volume house plan" line. In most cases I send them elsewhere. Unfortunately us "mere" drafties have taken over your role as designers, most likely due to the fact we provide fast efficient service and know how to put a building together to meet the clients budget !! Get that right and get your clients back.. Pretty simple. Not everyone wants or appreciates your "design" input and additional costs !
    Maybe you should also review you comment relating to "I understand now, why you had so much trouble throughout your degree. Perhaps arrogance doesn't relate well to your teachers." Look in the mirror buddy, you could start there !!
    Signed
    very well paid "mere" draftie
  • edited January 1970
    I dont know if this belongs in another forum but I think it's appropriate to say something in here, I agree with the initial opinion that the 6 years is too long, but I come from a different degree that I've combined with my architecture degree and that's six years too but without all the "bulls**t" classes from the single architecture degree. My biggest concern in the architecture degree is the way the teaching staff seem insensitive to students. Why is it that other students pity us for choosing a degree that has leaves a trail of broken hearts behind it. The theory subjects are one thing, but when was it ever acceptable for tutors and lecturers alike to reduce students to tears, and then be proud of it and offer no solution for what the student has obviously done wrong?

    But on a more relevant note...six years is not a long time if you have a passion for what you do. Because if you have a passion for it, i think you would go out and find courses/subjects that would allow you to learn all the things that you feel you are lacking. If that doesn't help, perhaps you're in the wrong degree.
  • edited January 1970
    Speaking from my own experience, (so this obviously won't apply to all), the intense and sometimes anti-humanist nature of the architecture course (workload, course content, staff approaches, student treatment) was made pretty obvious in the first year of the degree, and, consequently, there was a rather large drop-out contingent. I would have thought that anyone who stayed beyond that first year, and definitely second, would have had to have a committed attitude to the study of architecture and all that it entailed. It surprises me that someone can last through to the final years of the course and start complaining about their treatment and the course structure (and no, before I get a response to this, I am not referring to the original post - they appear to have only completed their first year). I can understand that a perceived lack in progression of knowledge or skills base can result in frustration, but I don't believe this perception can come about a) overnight or b) late in the degree.

    What we are tested on most in the degree (obviously by some lecturers more than others) is our tenacity. While this approach may be easy to criticise, as it indeed leads to many a tear and many a sleepless night, it is my belief that it is the most useful skill/quality to be taught, as, once mastered, it will help one cope with just about any situation.

    And while I'm on my soap-box, I would like to add that the course depends greatly on what the individual puts into it. This probably applies to many courses and indeed industries, but particularly so for architecture. What an architect needs is an independent mind, a strong will, and above all, a belief in what she/he is doing. When I feel tempted to criticise the architectural education system and the profession for robbing me of my spare time, and sometimes sanity, I find it helps to think of that.

    My $0.02, anyway.
  • edited January 1970
    I had a ball at uni, enjoyed the Architecture degree and have some awesome memories and lifelong friends from the experience. (yes yes, we all worked whilst at uni at DCM and Seidler, blah blah). And yes i was a frothing architectural groupie full of optimism like 'Proud and Passionate' - I'm not rubbishing that. But...

    Now that i'm registered, in hindsight it is clear to me that the degree is too long. sure you get a great knowledge and understanding of the profession and design skills. However it's bleedingly obvious that you learn more on the job. Post-graduation, you then have to face a much more rigorous process to get REGISTERED, and that process puts this all into perspective.

    I'm only saying that we deserve more bang for our buck from the uni's, especially with all the recent changes to the state Architect's Acts in respect to a practicing Architects competency levels.

    I'm still passionate and full of optimism or i wouldn't be playing devil's advocate in this forum!
  • edited January 1970
    I am astonished at the naivety of Passionate and Proud. To liken the practice of architecture to writing or music implies that it is a cultural rather than social pursuit. The image is one of the autonomous architect - an eccentric individual struggling with their own brilliance, separate from, even shunned by society for their introversion and preference for bow-ties.

    Hand me a bucket. It is this sort of approach that is maintaining the gulf between the ideals of architecture education and the real world. To a large degree universities are commercial enterprises (particularly thanks to Mr Howard) and as such courses are designed around what students wish to be taught. Why else was there such a proliferation of ‘digital’ architecture courses offered a few years ago? As such, if the outlook of the students is unrealistic and outdated, the courses will follow.

    Universities are unable to successfully train students in the practical aspects of the profession, due to the nature of the experience and the context in which it is taught. What universities do enable is the formulation of an individual framework of ethics and theory that can then be applied to real-world decisions. As such it is up to the students to decide what to take with them and how to apply it – those who insist on holding on to these sycophantic ‘great architect’ ideals have the farthest to fall.

    For the tally, I’m all for 4 years. With ‘emerging’ architects in their mid forties (RAIA awards – more depressing than I can possibly articulate) perhaps it would be best if we speed things up a bit and try to keep pace with the rest of the design industry.
  • edited January 1970
    i had a great time in uni.

    i had a 2 year tafe diploma in drafting/construction then went to uni for a B. Arch.

    i don't believe the B. Arch should be filled with practical stuff. you can learn to built and document and administer etc... out there in the real world. you'll never learn to design out there.

    after 5 years you may just begin to find your feet and understand how you personally must approach design. you atleast need this length of time in the type of environment that school provides for this to happen.
  • edited January 1970
    perhaps the original poster could investigate continuing their education at a uni such as UTS or QUT where students work part-time in conjunction with their studies.
  • edited January 1970
    i don't understand why there is such a great variety in teaching quality amongst AACA approved courses offered at various universities. there should be a national standard and it needs tobe monitored not every few years but every year. i happened to be at UxSW and was in a particularly bad session (cannot say bad year as they have twice-a-year intake/graduation). As an international student who only wanted to do the final two years of the course I was utterly disappointed by the level of teaching staff and the quality of academic environment provided. i did not have time to investigate other institutions and the visa condition disallowed me to switch institution for teh first one year meaning that i had to get into the final year at another uni if i wanted to make a switch.

    if there are students who are planning to switch institution or commencing soon make sure you will ask around not for reputation but the quality of teaching and also try to get into a course which is practical to your needs and also prefarably studio based. i can say that the ratio of available staff members to students is very important, try to apply for a course where there are less students per tutor and with longer contact hours per week. it is critical not only for design studio but also elective subjects (lectures).

    one last thing, the young tutors won't necessarily be more flexible or tolerant to new ideas, often opposite and you can be assigned a youngish tutor with so little real life experience and is very arrogant.

    good luck and don't just think about surviving the course but try to enjoy it.

    ;-)
  • edited January 1970
    So Is it you mean that the teaching quality of UxSW is not good comparing to othe universities? why u said so (please reason by comparing with other unis in NSW state) as i am thinking to go NSW to study architecture.. thinking which unis.... thx.
  • edited January 1970
    Well, what a lively discussion

    As a builder I totally disagree with those who think it's all about learning design and being able to pick up the technicalities later.

    Your clients are not likely to have unlimited funds to pay for you to learn how a building is built "on the job".

    We all continue to learn but not (hopefully) at the expense of our clients.

    Good, in fact great design and detailing is what you should all aspire to, but without a sound understanding of admin and construction techniques you will not get there without huge amounts of angst all round.

    The degree should not be all about design and nothing else. Those of you with ability will continue to improve your design and detailing over time, provided you understand the implications of what you design. Without the undestanding of construction and other technical aspects your "projects" will be unbuildable or so far over the client budget that it will have all been a miserable failure.

    We have worked with some great Architects and whilst they may not know all about building ( as we know less about design ) they understand, will listen to suggestions and we can work together. Architects and designers who dont know or care about the technicalities are the source of all of the angst referred to above. ( as are builders who dont understand the importance of Architects designs, a source of aggro to Architects )

    So, encourage your education institutions to take a wholistic and far reaching view of the whole proession.

    there's more to it than an idea on paper.

    (hope this gets past the grammar and spell checker in our group )

    Phil
    www.prmconstructions.com.au
  • CalCal
    edited January 1970
    Actually, I kind of miss the 'intellectual rigour' of uni... the actual job does not provide the time to improve my skills in design and I miss being able to discuss ideas with other people.

    I would say – concentrate on ideas while you can at uni, get good at several different CAD packages on the ‘free’ computers that are provided and read as many of the magazines and books in the library as possible. Once you are working, you will have more limited access to resources other than product 'literature' and any new ideas are tested in your own time at your own expense.

    Also, join a social club, do sport and drink more beer. You may never have the chance to be irresponsible again…
  • edited January 1970
    tottodude wrote:
    i don't understand why there is such a great variety in teaching quality amongst AACA approved courses offered at various universities. there should be a national standard and it needs tobe monitored not every few years but every year. i happened to be at UxSW and was in a particularly bad session (cannot say bad year as they have twice-a-year intake/graduation). As an international student who only wanted to do the final two years of the course I was utterly disappointed by the level of teaching staff and the quality of academic environment provided. i did not have time to investigate other institutions and the visa condition disallowed me to switch institution for teh first one year meaning that i had to get into the final year at another uni if i wanted to make a switch.

    if there are students who are planning to switch institution or commencing soon make sure you will ask around not for reputation but the quality of teaching and also try to get into a course which is practical to your needs and also prefarably studio based. i can say that the ratio of available staff members to students is very important, try to apply for a course where there are less students per tutor and with longer contact hours per week. it is critical not only for design studio but also elective subjects (lectures).

    one last thing, the young tutors won't necessarily be more flexible or tolerant to new ideas, often opposite and you can be assigned a youngish tutor with so little real life experience and is very arrogant.

    good luck and don't just think about surviving the course but try to enjoy it.

    ;-)


    I also go to UNSW, and i think it is one of the best uni's for arch in the country. glen murcutt has recently come back to teach design, sydney uni is chaging deans all the time and lacks depth in teaching staff, rmit is doing projects which have no maerial, or social responses, not sure about melbourne uni.

    i am in a very good year, and i am very proud of the work my mates are doing. sure, we don't learn much cad, but it takes a week to teach yourself, sure we don't go to building sites because of insurance issues, but you can do that in your own time easily, just visit site offices. all the staff are upbeat, and assist when they can. i would recommend it to any and everyone.
    i have friends wh left unsw to go to sydney uni, newcastle uni, and rmit after first year, and all have said they liked unsw more.


    PS: in general, if your unhappy, make a change.
  • edited January 1970
    YAY...first post :)

    i am a student about to commence 3rd year arch

    For the first 1.5 yrs at UNI i couldn't stop being frustrated with communication, assesment inconsistencies etc. I felt like i had every reason to whinge and stuff, and perhaps i do. But my whinging didn't get me anywhere, it just begot more whinging. In short...i had a change of heart and figured that i gotta make the most of it, so i am. While i have the oppurtunity to learn and suck the marrow out of UNI resources, library, periodicals, feedback, studio sessions, "free" computers, i will. My destiny is on my own back, not the backs of my selected institution, or it's admin, mo matter how defunct it may seem at times.

    I think that the hard times were also good times. A sense of comaraderie by sharing in the hard work with fellow students was ultimately positive. THe practical lessons about improved time management and work efficiency were positive. The lessons about pride, project integrety, sesitivity to the client (tutors), long suffereing were positive. THere is good in the course of study and the profession we pursue. None of picked this course because it was easy.


    my $0.05 AUD
  • edited January 1970
    thats the spirit captinsane.
    i agree completely.
  • edited January 1970
    my friend and i have similar thoughts about our architectural education provided by our tertiary institution...
    there is a large bullsh#t factor that we have coined the term
    "designing with the right-hand."... think about it ;)
    my friend is even writing a thesis entitled
    'wankatecture'

    oh well...
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