Dezeen Magazine

Exterior of Architectural Association in London

AA wins power to award degrees for the first time

The Architectural Association school in London has been granted the right to award bachelor's and master's degrees for the first time in its history, which "marks a new era" for the institution says its director Eva Franch i Gilabert.

The Architectural Association (AA) has been granted Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP), which means that from 1 October 2019 it will be able to award both bachelor's and master's degrees.

Until now the AA, which is the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, had its courses validated by the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Architects Registration Board, but could not award degrees.

This inability to award an academic title recognised by the UK government has caused issues with potential students applying for funding, as well as graduating international students when they return to their home countries.

"Significant milestone for the AA"

The process of gaining TDAP started six years ago and was a key aim of Franch i Gilabert, who was appointed AA director in July 2018.

"This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence," Franch i Gilabert said.

"Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement."

"These powers will allow AA students to gain parity"

Franch i Gilabert explained the need to gain TDAP in an exclusive interview with Dezeen earlier this year.

"Without TDAP, the AA Diploma – widely known and internationally acclaimed – is not an academic award recognised by the UK government, and AA graduates regularly encounter challenges when returning home or to other overseas countries for the purposes of professional development or further academic study," she said.

"Attaining these powers will allow AA students to gain parity of rights and benefits as well as securing the AA's cherished principles of academic freedom, independence and internationalism."

From October the students at the AA will be undertaking numerous TDAP-accredited courses including Experimental Programme (BA), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing history and critical thinking in architecture (MA), Projective Cities (taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch).

Achieving TDAP was one of the steps that the AA has taken to secure its future. This also included a round of redundancies to cut costs that drew protests from Rem Koolhaas, Toyo Ito and Richard Rogers.