Architecture called out on ‘excessive workload’

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By Rebecca Burton
Associate News Editor

You know you’re in architecture when you lose your house keys and only realize one week later. And ‘sleep is for the weak’ becomes your mantra.

But these sort of student complaints may not be totally off-base.

A FIPPA filed by the Eyeopener revealed reports indicating that the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) is saying the program has “an excessive course load, a very concentrated weekly timetable, and numerous assignments,” that need to be addressed.

The Visiting Team Report issued by the CACB after their visit in March of 2010, showed this was not the only concern in the accreditation process.

“Every school gets at least five or six problems,” said Kendra Smith, chair of architecture.

Along with excessive coursework the department was asked to fix the size of the drafting studios and to improve its students’ general writing and reading abilities.

Mourad Mohan-Said, executive director of the CACB, said there are no set guidelines or amount of corrections for each school because each evaluation is very different.

This was the accreditation board’s first visit to Ryerson. The program’s status will only last for three years before the team returns to Ryerson.

Neighbouring schools such as University of Toronto or Waterloo University have been accredited as early as 1993, just two years after the board initiated the accreditation program.

“The accredited body is concerned about the quality of [the program] and how prepared the students are to enter the workforce,” said Levy.

The program has already proved that it is in constant transition.

The current fourth-year students’ are considered the ‘guinea pig’ year after the program added an additional three hours of studio time to their week.

The grand total came to nine hours of studio time in order to meet the accreditation board requirements.

For the fourth year student, the average week amounts to about 21 hours of class.

But as fourth-year architecture student Michael Rosada said, the total time really comes to approximately 60 hours.

“It’s way too much. It should be five years,” he said.

Levy said a group of people will continue to revise the workload and change the curriculum before the next visit, which is scheduled in 2013.

“Beginning in winter of the 2011 term, the department will be assigning fewer but more targeted projects and the faculty are discussing how to combine courses with studios to better deliver the required material,” he said.

“A lot of work is going on to prepare for the next visit.”

Photo by: Mohammed Omar

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