Convoluted membership process acts as deterrent

The processes and costs involved in joining the RTPI could see planners avoiding membership.

It will come as no surprise to participants in the planning system that procedures for entry into the profession are convoluted. With the halving in length of postgraduate courses, the Royal Town Planning Institute has effectively taken over part of universities' role in assessing the competence of prospective planners.

Yet the £230 cost of joining the RTPI and the processes involved are both major problems. If I had completed a recognised course recently, I would think twice about becoming a full member. I would be interested to see what proportion of planners are now joining. I know good young planners who aren't bothering.

Certainly, when I recruit, I will look for people who have completed a recognised course, but will not necessarily care whether they have obtained full institute membership.

While recent graduates will have little influence on the way the institute works, older members should be making their voices heard over this, along with planning schools. How would they feel at having to go through this bureaucratic jungle?

Ged McHugh, head of economic development, Blaenau Gwent Council

RTPI response: The RTPI is committed to the maintenance of high professional standards. In common with most professions therefore, we ask that chartered members gain an accredited postgraduate degree and undergo a period of learning in professional practice. As recently as 2009, we undertook a thorough review of the assessment of professional competence process, which included consultation with members, employers and, critically, candidates for membership. The conclusion was that the process was appropriately demanding and fit for purpose.

The institute actively encourages employers and members to promote professional membership. Membership of a professional body will enhance an individual's professional life, but it is also an important public benefit. It provides an assurance of standards through education, continuing professional development and professional conduct. We are extremely proud of our record in these areas.

The institute also actively encourages members to contribute to its work, irrespective of their age. It is extremely encouraging that increasing numbers of candidates are applying for RTPI membership through the route that McHugh has concerns with.

Sue Percy, RTPI director of professional service

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