Signed in April 2008, the “Canberra Accord on Architectural Education: Recognition of Substantial Equivalence between Accreditation/Validation Systems in Architectural Education” is a document by accreditation/validation agencies in architectural education. The Canberra Accord is intended to facilitate the portability of educational credentials between the countries whose accreditation/validation agencies signed the Accord. It does not address matters related to professional registration or licensure. This site is designed to provide information to three groups:

  • Individuals who will have completed their professional architectural education beginning January 1, 2010 in a program accredited/validated by one of the signatory systems.
  • Leaders and staff of signatory agencies or organizations.
  • Leaders and staff of regulatory agencies responsible for professional licensure or registration in architecture.

The Canberra Accord recognizes the substantial equivalency of accreditation/validation systems in architectural education of its Signatories  

“Substantial equivalency identifies a program/me as comparable in educational outcomes in all significant aspects, and indicates that it provides an educational experience meeting acceptable standards, even though such program/me may differ in format or method of delivery. Substantial equivalency is not accreditation.”


Canberra Balloon Spectacular, National Arboretum Canberra, ACT. © Matt Evans, VisitCanberra

In May 2006, the National Architectural Accrediting Board, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, and The American Institute of Architects convened the first International Invitational Accreditation/Validation Roundtable in Washington, DC. Leadership from the architectural accrediting agencies of the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, Mexico, Korea, the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth Association of Architects, as well as leaders from the International Union of Architects (UIA) attended. 

The purpose of the roundtable was to determine whether these agencies had sufficient interest and equivalency between their systems of accreditation/validation to enter into an accord on accreditation/validation in architectural education, similar to that already in place for engineering. At the end of the meeting, the participants agreed to undertake a comparative analysis of their systems of accreditation based on a review of the documents underpinning each agency’s system (i.e., conditions/criteria and procedures for accreditation). The participants from the first roundtable, reconvened in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in May 2007.

The primary purpose of the second International Invitational Accreditation/Validation Roundtable was to review the results of the comparative analyses of each agency. The participants concluded that the significant similarities between the participants’ systems meant they could be accepted as substantially equivalent to each other.

The participants agreed that graduates from institutions accredited or validated by one system would still be subject to additional requirements imposed by local law. Therefore, it was possible to work toward developing an agreement sooner than expected. In mid-August, the first draft of the “Canberra Accord on Architectural Education: Recognition of Substantial Equivalence between Accreditation/Validation Systems in Architectural Education” was sent to the participants from the May 2007 meeting for review and comments. A second draft followed in late September. 

A third International Invitational Accreditation/Validation Roundtable was convened in Canberra, Australia in April 2008, with the primary purpose to ratify the accord. The “Canberra Accord on Architectural Education: Recognition of Substantial Equivalence between Accreditation/Validation Systems in Architectural Education” was signed on April 9, 2008 in Canberra, Australia.

The purpose of the Invitational Accreditation/Validation Round Table Conference is to explore among the representatives of the invited countries and organizations the opportunities that mutual recognition among their accreditation/validation systems would create, to better understand the challenges and obstacles and, if it should appear desirable to create a mutual recognition agreement, how such a program could or should be implemented.

To investigate the implications of mutual recognition, the National Architectural Accrediting Board, the organization responsible for the accreditation of architectural education for the United States, will chair the Invitational Accreditation / Validation Round Table Conference to identify the interest in creating a mutual recognition agreement and the opportunities and challenges related to the creation of such an organization among existing well established accreditation agencies. The Round Table will be jointly sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).

In 1994 the UIA established its Professional Practice and Education Commissions to develop international advisory standards for architectural education and practice. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the UIA signed a protocol in 2000 establishing the UNESCO-UIA Validation Council for Architectural Education. As a result of these commitments the UIA Accord on Recommended International Standards of Professionalism in Architectural Practice, the UNESCO-UIA Charter on Architectural Education, and UNESCO-UIA Validation System for Architectural Education were developed and adopted. These documents provide a coordinated set of advisory policies and procedures intended to enhance the transportability of academic and professional credentials across international borders.

The accreditation systems of Canada, the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the United Kingdom, and the United States shared their documents and experience with the UNESCO-UIA Validation Council. The Validation Council developed the UNESCO-UIA Validation System covering both individual degree granting programs and accreditation/validation systems; however, as the work of the Validation Council progressed it became apparent that the cost of UIA recognition of existing, well established accreditation/validation systems was not being accepted by these systems. Canada, Commonwealth Association of Architects, United Kingdom, and the United States all indicated that they are not interested in spending at the level suggested by the UIA program to achieve recognition by the UIA. In response to this impasse that threatened the credibility of efforts to establish an international advisory standard for accreditation/validation, the Validation Council prepared a draft protocol for mutual recognition. The UIA Council adopted the protocol in May, 2000 that calls for a mutual recognition agreement among like architectural education accreditation agencies throughout the world. A similar program is currently in place for the international engineering profession.

A mutual recognition system is an important step to consider at this time. The objective of a mutual recognition program among validation agencies is to assure that credits and degrees earned at schools of architecture that are accredited/validated by the agencies are recognized by all of the schools accredited/validated by these agencies.

The accreditation/validation agencies and representatives from the architectural profession of Australia, Canada, China, Mexico, South Korea, United Kingdom, and the United States as well as the Commonwealth Association of Architects and the UNESCO-UIA Validation Council are invited to participate in this exchange. Each country and organization is requested to limit its delegations to three representatives, and will be responsible for the travel and hotel expenses of their delegations. English will be the working language of the conference.

The participants to the First Invitational Accreditation/Validation Round Table held in Washington, DC, USA on 4-5 May 2006 were the representatives of various national, regional and global organizations responsible for, or interested in, the accreditation/validation of architectural education. The participants agreed that they shared the goal of developing an accord for the recognition of accreditation/validation systems allowing graduates from a study program/course of architectural education accredited by one of the represented systems to be accepted as substantially equivalent by another, subject to additional requirements imposed by local law. It was further agreed that such a goal could be achieved by an international protocol that would contribute significantly to the quality of architectural education. The parties recognized that substantial similarities exist among the systems, including respect for cultural diversity, and processes for accreditation/validation of study program/courses in architecture. The participants expressed their commitment to continue the dialogue started at this Conference with the intent of establishing such a protocol.

It was agreed that Canada would host the next Round Table, to be held 7-9 May, 2007 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It was agreed that a steering group would be formed, with each group or country designating one representative to that committee within one month. Mexico agreed to chair the steering committee. Interactive communications will be facilitated through the Web site.

The IAV Committee gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors of our 2nd Invitational Round Table

Skyscraper Level:

  • HOK
  • The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

School Level:

  • Gage – Babcock & Associates Ltd
  • Hanscomb Limited
  • IBI Group Architects
  • James KM Cheng Architects Inc.
  • Rick Balbi Architects Ltd

House Level:

  • Delcan Corporation
  • NFOE et associTs architect
  • Stantec Architecture

Read the Minutes from the Canberra, Australia meeting.

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