University Engagement Working Group

11 December 2023

The ACA University Engagement Working Group aims to connect with the tertiary education sector and promote the value of architectural practice and business to university students. Topics of interest to the group include models of internships, the sharing of business-related tools and resources, and education around the Business of Architecture.

The University Engagement Working Group (UEWG) has representatives from each of the ACA state and territory branches. It aims to work with the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia (AASA) to connect with the tertiary sector and promote the value of architectural practice and business to university students. We also aim to offer students appropriate access to ACA tools, resources and content to assist with their business-related learning. The group will:

  • Identify and arrange activities, initiatives and ideas for the ACA to engage with university students and academics.
  • Investigate how ACA Tools (such as the Time Cost Calculator Guide) can be accessed by university students.
  • Consider models of internship across universities with the assistance of QUT PhD student Sarah Briant.
  • Explore how the ACA can enhance our efforts and connections with the universities through lectures and presentations that promote the ACA and the business of architecture.

The ACA will continue to support relevant university research efforts linked to the business of architecture, including ACA’s involvement in the ARC funded Wellbeing of Architects project and the Next-Gen Architectural Manufacturing Research.

Why engage with universities and students?

ACA members are architectural businesses made up of employers, many of whom manage and lead employees, including students. Anecdotal statistics indicate that 50% of architecture graduates set up their own practice, yet many have little or no knowledge of how to run a practice, manage employees, pay the correct salaries, undertake sound financial control, and the long list of other key elements of running a profitable, productive, ethical and/or equitable business. With that as the context, the ACA is delighted to announce that at our AGM on 27 November, the ACA passed a Constitutional change to include a new grade of membership – Student Affiliate. This new student affiliate grade is about bringing the ACA to the university sector and future-proofing our profession for the next generation.

Get in touch

The ACA welcomes input from members on issues related to architectural education, universities and students. If you are interested in developing relationships with universities, contact your local branch for more information.

UEWG Chair – Emily van Eyk

The Chair of the ACA University Engagement Working Group, Emily van Eyk is based in Beaconsfield in Western Australia. She owns and operates Mt Eyk, a small architectural business, and teaches architecture and design at UWA. Emily answered a few quick questions about the new working group.

Why is the ACA University Engagement Working Group important?

The ACA’s core goals of fostering a strong, healthy and current architectural industry are not at odds with architectural education. An understanding of good practice begins at universities. It makes perfect sense for the peak body for the business of architecture to be engaged in tertiary education. Many committee members and wider members of the ACA are already currently involved with numerous universities. This working group is simply about harnessing that individual approach into something more collective and effective.

What are your aspirations for the group?

Our aspirations are threefold: to foster a greater relationship with the university sector with the intention of being a benefit to business and practice education; to provide a conduit for networking between students and industry; and to facilitate partnership and research initiatives that relate to the business of architecture. This may take many forms but initially we are looking at membership tiers, access to our tools for education purposes, and reaching out to researchers looking at all things relating to business and industry.

What are some of the changes you’d like to see happen in architectural education and how can the ACA have an impact in this area?

I believe the university sector is doing an incredible job educating future architects and don’t necessarily see our role as anything that would change this. Instead, I see the impact as being complementary to the more practice-based areas universities are required to teach; and could potentially assist in a way that allows the curricula to embrace business and economic education as something as diverse, impactful and meaningful as design education. Or, perhaps, almost as much.


Thanks to the following members of the University Engagement Working Group for your valuable contributions this year:

  • Charmaine Kai, QLD/NT
  • Denis Waring, QLD/NT
  • Paul Viney, VIC/TAS
  • Emily Van Eyk, WA
  • Greg Isaac, NSW/ACT
  • Mark Berlangieri, SA