Make architectural internships more meaningful & relevant for students and the profession.

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The Council of Architecture, India (COA) has been constituted by the Government of India under the provisions of the Architects Act, 1972, enacted by the Parliament of India, which came into force on 1st September 1972. The Act provides for registration of Architects, standards of education, recognized qualifications and standards of practice to be complied with by the practising architects.

Internship plays a pivotal role in every architectural curriculum, which provides many students with the first exposure to architectural practice and helps them decide their career path.

In last two decades, the number of architecture colleges in India has more than tripled. At this moment around 1,25,000 students are studying architecture in India, and about 25,000 students every year go out looking for the right internship opportunity. However, the number of architectural practices in India that are eligible (as per guidelines laid by many universities) to employ interns is insignificant. Many students, professionals and academicians have opined that this demand and supply gap is resulting in frustration, exploitation, and malpractices by professionals, institutes and students. While all architectural institutes charge a full semester /year fee from students, very few actually look into providing the right guidance, advice and support to students. Even during the time of disputes and conflicts, many institutes are unwilling to take any responsibility.

It is imperative for Council of Architecture to intervene and lay down new guidelines for architectural institutes, professionals and students, that would make architectural internships more meaningful and relevant to the current time. I would urge CoA to:

1. consider widening the scope of architectural internships

Architectural internships shall not be limited to working under a practising architect only – students should also be encouraged to take up internships in other fields closely related to architecture, like journalism, photography, project management, furniture design, research or marketing in a construction/real estate firm.

2. make architecture colleges take full responsibility for students during the internship

While architecture colleges charge full semester/year fee from students during the internship, they hardly provide any support and guidance to students with finding the right internship or taking responsibility during conflicts and disputes between employers and students. This needs to change, and CoA must ensure that institutes are made aware of - and held accountable for - the extent of their responsibilities.

3. create guidelines for employers to ensure better office environment and ethical treatment of interns

Students have reported various cases of
a. employers demanding security deposit of internship fee from students
b. low or no stipend
c. long working hours
d. hostile working environment, psychological and sexual harassment

It is important that CoA establishes a grievance cell that institutes, professionals and students can approach for resolution and remedies during disputes and complaints.