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IfA - A Chartered Institute - trainedchimp - 12th August 2010

It's been lurking in the background (and foreground) of everything the IfA have done or said in the last few years, but in my email inbox today is a call for consultation on a proposal to make the IfA a Chartered Institute. There's a link to a short consultation paper that I've not uploaded here - someone from the IfA will have to do that.

I will add at this point that I'm an IfA member, but not on Council or anything like that. And I'm not sure what I think about this. Not yet at least.

I'm considering the blue touch paper well and truly lit...

IfA - A Chartered Institute - Sparky - 12th August 2010

Looks like the IfA might be taking advantage of the Big Society niche to the possible detriment of the national heritage quangos. A bit too much like the not particulalry impartial Press Complaints Commission who haven't got the best track record.

IfA - A Chartered Institute - kevin wooldridge - 12th August 2010

My opinion - if it helps create a more professional and tighter regulated profession it has to be a good thing.

IfA - A Chartered Institute - Sparky - 13th August 2010

Couldn't agree with you more, Kevin. But do you really believe that the IfA in the form that we see it today can achieve this?

IfA - A Chartered Institute - Unitof1 - 13th August 2010

IfA - A Chartered Institute - Sparky - 13th August 2010

Answers on a postcard, please.

IfA - A Chartered Institute - Dinosaur - 13th August 2010

If they want to make what's effectively a closed shop shouldn't they first consult the majority of British archaeologists who aren't members of IFA who they're planning on making unemployed? Sad!

IfA - A Chartered Institute - the invisible man - 13th August 2010

I'm far from convinced that that is/would be the case, Dino. There is clearly far more to this Chartering business than meets the eye and the little document doesn't go into much detail. It does point out that if an insitute is chartered this does not necessarily mean that it can confer chartered status upon its members: that is a seperate step. So does this mean a barrier to entry to the profession or not, does it mean that "archaeologist" is a protected title? It's all very complicated. For example, there are obviously barriers and restrictions on who can practise as a doctor or dentist. However, anyone can practise as an architect, but only registered architects can call themselves an Architect as it is a protected title. They do not have to belong to the RIBA.

Even if it all goes the whole hog, I am not sure that that would be a bad thing. We all bleat on here about standards and professionalism, and wail that no-one else thinks we are professionals. But who would be, and who would have to be, the new registered/chartere/BS kite marked/approved and money back if not satisfied Archaeologists? Every digger on a site? Eyeryone in the office, post-ex and specialist types? Just those in a position of responsibility, if so, only the bod in charge, the Project Manager, supervisors? To return to my architectural analogy, in most offices it is actually quite rare for all staff to be proper architects.

IfA - A Chartered Institute - Oxbeast - 13th August 2010

"However, anyone can practise as an architect, but only registered architects can call themselves an Architect as it is a protected title. They do not have to belong to the RIBA. "

Yes, they're the ones calling themselves 'architectural consultant'.

I would be for this in principle, but I would want the IfA to change significantly. As invisible man says, only a minority of a profession are actually chartered, but I think surveyors would be a better comparison to archaeologists. The top bods are full charter members, and other ranks are members of RICS, working towards their chartered status. There are loads of complicated formulae about time served, qualifications and experience to get to the various grades. It is made worthwhile be being paid more, being able to be more mobile and having a properly deifned career structure.

I would want to IfA to start behaving more professionally and represent the interests of the profession as a whole, rather than being a club for managers run in the interests of companies. I think they would be better off starting to ask themselves why people don't want to join.

IfA - A Chartered Institute - BAJR - 13th August 2010

To save some time... here is the full transcript of Tim Howards musings

A Chartered Institute?
In medieval times Royal Charters were granted as the only means of incorporating a public or private body. Today Royal Charters continue to be granted by the sovereign on the advice of the Privy Council, but ‘are normally reserved for bodies that work in the public interest (such as professional institutions and charities) and which can demonstrate pre-eminence, stability and permanence in their particular field (1)’. With the development of other forms of incorporation, bodies such as the IfA do not need to be chartered but there are benefits which continue to prompt professional bodies to seek chartered status.

Foremost amongst these benefits is political, public and peer recognition and respect. Recent research (2) has highlighted the value of Charter, suggesting, for instance, that the ‘public ranks Chartered number one in terms of confidence in professionalism, over other designations like Fellowship and degree’. A distinction has to be drawn here between the chartering of a body (such as the IfA) and the ability of a chartered body to confer chartered status on its members. In the first instance, we are considering whether to prepare an application to the Privy Council to seek chartered status for the Institute. This would not, without more, confer the ability to grant chartered status (as a Chartered Archaeologist) to members, but this is something which could subsequently be pursued, for instance, by an application to amend the Charter to grant such powers.

Although some may see chartering the Institute primarily as a stepping stone to the introduction of Chartered Archaeologist status for practitioners, there are clear benefits in chartering the Institute in terms of increased profile, prestige and authority. For example, public endorsement of this nature is likely to strengthen the Institute’s hand in its longstanding campaign for the accreditation of professional competence in archaeology. However, Charter is not a panacea and there are potential drawbacks. To some degree, it involves a loss of independence and can increase the administrative burden with the Privy Council having to sanction any changes to the Institute’s by-laws. It can entail significant costs, not only in legal fees, but also in meeting the stringent criteria for eligibility, and even having incurred those costs and satisfied those criteria, the grant of a Charter is not guaranteed.

Nevertheless, investment in the future of the Institute and its members is necessary even in these straitened times and much of the work required to achieve chartered status (including high levels of membership) cannot be ignored. Council has considered the issues and resolved that further work should be done to investigate and, if appropriate, advance the case for Charter. This includes consulting the membership and others involved in the sector.

Consequently, we are canvassing the views as to whether members are in favour of preparing and presenting an application to charter the Institute. If you have any comments, please send them to Tim Howard at
or at Institute for Archaeologists, SHES, Whiteknights, University of Reading, PO Box 227, Reading, RG6 6AB by 30 September, 2010.

1 See Privy Council website:
2 The Stamp of Quality? The importance of being Chartered, Paper in Professionalism 5