President’s Comment – June 2023

28 June 2023

ACA National President John Held reflects on education, ongoing learning, obstacles for students and graduates, and ACA advocacy and support of the latest research.


In some ways I was lucky – old enough to have good music in my youth but young enough to miss the Vietnam draft and (apart from one year) receive a free university education. So, I sympathise with the graduates who recently found their HELP higher education debt had either not gone down or had actually increased. After five or more years of study, finding work and then setting out on the long and complex road to registration, it feels like no-one really cares about how to develop skilled, socially aware professionals.

Without venturing into a debate about university education, or about pathways to registration, it’s clear that some vocations are more equal than others. The ACA has recently been discussing the emphasis and funding that is directed to vocational education and, in particular, apprenticeships, whilst architectural graduates are not supported. There is a perception in policymaking that universities produce fully-formed professionals, which is not the case. As a profession we must put more effort into mentoring, educating and encouraging graduates as they find their way through the maze. We must also be vocal in lobbying policymakers to not forget about the importance of the role of good professionals in society and the support they need. Fulton Trotter’s establishment of their MOSS program is one example of ways to fill those training gaps – there should be many more.

The ACA is also supporting Parlour’s efforts in their analysis of census and other statistical data (Parlour Census Report 2001–2021), because without evidence of completion rates, dropout rates and an understanding of who makes up the profession we can’t move forward.

The graduates don’t need or want their HELP, but they need your help.