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RIBA considers alliances with India’s booming universities

Universities minister David Willetts

Universities minister David Willetts

Move comes as David Cameron praises British architects as ‘some of finest in world’

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is considering writing to every architecture school in India to invite them to apply for validation.

Despite the country’s size and rapidly growing higher education sector, none of its architecture courses is validated by the RIBA. By contrast, its tiny neighbour Sri Lanka has two validated schools.

India is expecting to add an extra 40 million university places by 2020. The UK government wants British education exports to grow by 50% to nearly £22 billion over the same period.

The move comes on the back of the record-breaking trade mission led by David Cameron to Delhi and Mumbai last week when the prime minister praised British architects as “some of the finest in the world”.

The RIBA’s chairman of new courses, James Soane of Project Orange, was part of the 100-strong delegation which also included directors from John McAslan & Partners, Sybarite, Benoy and Aecom.

During the trip he spoke to universities minister David Willetts about the potential for forging alliances with Indian schools.

Willetts, who was on the trip to announce a string of valuable joint ventures between British and Indian universities, immediately offered the government’s support. Soane has now written to RIBA director of education David Gloster.

“The trip was an amazing opportunity to meet influential people who are looking for ideas,” said Soane.“There’s a huge amount of infrastructure work in the pipeline in India and, while there’s likely to be some international input, it’s really important that India is able to use its home-grown talent.

“India has engineering-led rather than design-led architectural education and the architecture they tend to outsource is the high-end creative stuff.”

The RIBA has validated courses at 29 schools in 14 countries but no Indian university has applied for several years.

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