20 September 2023
Newsflash 90/2023

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The South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) is responsible for the accreditation of South African Architectural Learning Sites (ALS’s), including the maintenance and enhancement of education standards completed via their recognition process.

The mandate to accredit architecture programs has always been with SACAP. The CAA standards of accreditation were used by SACAP for accreditation and that is why CAA joined SACAP when accreditation visits were conducted at the ALSs.

SACAP took over the accreditation role when it was admitted as a signatory to the Canberra Accord in 2017.

The Canberra Accord on Architectural Education

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.”

Please click on the following link to read more about the Canberra Accord.

Restructuring of the B Arch Degree programme in South Africa

Prior to 2007, the Bachelor of Architecture (B Arch) degree was a six year degree.

In the early 2000’s, the various Architectural Learning Sites restructured the Bachelor of Architecture into a five year degree including the Honours and Masters programs as follows : Undergraduate degree - three years, Honours degree - one year, Master’s degree - one year (M Arch). The M Arch degree is the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) NQF nine and is equivalent to the B Arch six year degree (obtained prior to 2000).

The various South African Universities and Universities of Technologies which have Architectural Learning Sites (ALS) implemented the new B Arch and M Arch programmes as and when they gained approvals from the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC).

Admission requirements

With SACAPs admission as a Canberra Accord signatory in 2017, the verification of SACAP accredited Masters degrees (five-year programs) is no longer a requirement when seeking registration in a signatory country - such as Canada ( The Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB-CCCA), China (The National Board of Architectural Accreditation of China NBAA), Commonwealth Association of Architecture (CAA) member countries - see list CAA list of validations, Hong Kong, Chinese Tapai, Japan, Korea and Mexico, please see the list of the current CANBERRA ACCORD SIGNATORY COUNTRIES.

The experiential training and professional examination remain as a requirement internationally.

Recognition of South African architecture degrees on the international stage, for registration purposes, has in living memory followed the same processes of application, which includes the submission of documentation, including course outlines and academic records which must be verified by the academic institution, followed by a period of experiential training and passing the professional practice examination (PPE), as required in the foreign country.

Applications to non-signatory countries continue to follow the former procedures. This too holds true for those with current architecture Bachelors and Honours qualifications.

SACAP recognises graduates holding the former 5- and 6-year B.Arch. qualifications as eligible for registration as Professional Architects.

Other current accredited qualifications obtainable in South Africa have, depending on years of study and credits, alternative levels of registration categories.

At present, any parity of undergraduate and Honours degrees internationally, has to be tested on application.

Please contact the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) for more information via email: Kimberley.Rowan@sacapsa.com

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