SACAP - The Mysterious Withdrawal of CAA Validation Of SA Schools

Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) Accreditation of SACAP Recognised Architectural Learning Sites (ALS) – Rumours about the withdrawal of CAA validation of architectural qualifications.

The training and practice of Architecture in South Africa is regulated by the Architectural Professions Act (Act 44 of 2000).

The South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) is the statutory body which is mandated to protect the public by implementing the Act. All architectural learning sites (ALS) training graduates for candidature must be accredited by SACAP and all persons practicing architecture must be registered with SACAP.

Since its establishment, SACAP is part of a relationship between the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) and the Commonwealth Association of Architecture (CAA) by way of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between SACAP and the CAA.

The CAA has been invited to nominate members to participate in accreditation visits to architectural learning sites (ALS), and in turn South African schools of architecture have been included on a "A List of Schools of Architecture whose qualifications it considered, after inspection, to be a sufficient standard to recommend to National Authorities that they be accepted for recognition as meeting the academic requirements appropriate for registration, accreditation, or acceptance as an architect." [from the CAA website]

On 27 December 2011, the CAA issued a letter stating that the following architectural learning sites (ALS’) at

four South African universities had been delisted:

• The University of Witwatersrand (WITS)

• Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU)

• Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)

• University of Cape Town (UCT)

Rumours have since been spreading that the qualifications offered by the delisted architectural learning sites (ALS), are no longer accredited and SACAP’s president, Mr Phill Mashabane, stated that he felt obliged to step in to protect the integrity and eminence of the affected schools by clarifying some pertinent issues.

The first is that the choice of delisted architectural learning sites (ALS), seems somewhat random since the school at UCT was inspected early in 2011 and received a very positive report. The second is that the accreditation status of these four institutions is in no way affected; graduates will continue to be registered with SACAP as candidates and professionals. Mr Mashabane explained that the CAA listing had some marketing value in academic circles, but in reality a CAA-recognised qualification does not make entry into other architectural learning sites (ALS) architectural programme any easier; applicants are simply judged according to the schools requirements, regardless of where the applicant’s degree was awarded. Neither does any foreign architectural registration board automatically recognise South African qualifications – or those of any other country for that matter.

The European Union is one of the rare alliances where some mobility of qualifications is possible. In all instances, architectural candidates and professionals who wish to emigrate or work abroad must provide proof of knowledge and skills, as well as write the relevant professional practice exam.

After investigating the matter, SACAP questioned the timing and rationale behind the delisting, and provided documentation contesting the one-sided and sudden decision. SACAP has made it clear that it will nevertheless be prepared to engage with the CAA in renewing links and normalising the relationship.

Issued by: Mr Phillemon Mashabane, President -South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP)