Architecture has an essential contribution to make to the 21st century. In response to increased student debt levels, we established the London School of Architecture to provide the most talented candidates with a critically relevant and affordable route into the profession.
The School, which opened its doors in October 2015, offers a ‘cost-neutral’ two-year postgraduate programme that is already backed by 45 design practices, has 30 enrolled students, with 140 applications for the 40 places in our second intake. Innovative, yet deliverable, this new model for architectural education pioneered by the LSA is a unique opportunity to connect with the current – and future – leaders of architecture.
In 2016 the majority of England’s architecture schools will start to charge the full £9,000 per year for all five compulsory years of study. Pressingly, it is credibly predicted that the majority of architecture graduates will now never pay off their student debt within their lifetime. In response to this, we established the first new independent school of architecture in London for over a century. Our ambition is for our graduates to avoid £18,000 of tuition fee debt altogether. Our fees are £6,000/year – one third cheaper than the typical £9,000 – with students also earning a minimum of £12,000 during an integrated, part-time 12-month work placement.
Alongside our ‘cost-neutral’ model, we have two other major USPs. Using the city as our campus, we don’t have our own buildings (to lower overheads); and we site our projects in a different London borough each year (to engage students with urgent urban issues). Secondly, by sitting between the university system and industry, we create a much-needed dialogue between academia and practice.
Our ultimate milestone is to be fully recognised by the state, so that the LSA is on a level playing field with universities, and so that our students can access financial support for living costs. In the meantime, we are seeking essential additional finance, both to pass stringent recognition requirements and to support our talented, trailblazing students.
Will Hunter is the Founder and Director of the London School of Architecture.