2021 National Standard of Competency for Architects


Charmaine Kai, ACA member of the Expert Reference Group on the NSCA, provides an update on the key developments.

ACA – QLD/NT committee members Denis Waring and I have been involved with two concurrent Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) projects. Since February 2020, I have been involved in the Expert Reference Group (ERG), reviewing and updating the National Standard of Competency for Architects (NSCA), while Denis has been involved in the panel developing the AACA Pathway to Registration Project.


As a peak industry body, the ACA has been involved in the five-yearly review of the National Standard of Competency for Architects (NSCA) that was released on 1 July 2021. Our involvement on the Expert Reference Group aligns with the ACA’s education advocacy in supporting the education of architectural students and graduates.


The NSCA is the key document referred to by architectural schools throughout Australia to develop their curriculum, used by candidates as they prepare for their architect’s registration exam, and referred to by examiners when interviewing candidates for the APE Part 3.

The 2021 National Standard of Competency for Architects (NSCA) identifies the skills, knowledge and capabilities required for the general practice of architecture in Australia.

The new competencies recognise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ongoing connection and custodianship of Country, and the ethical responsibilities to the physical environment and the transition to a carbon-neutral built environment.


The NSCA outlines the assessment of competency at key milestones over the course of a career in architecture – from graduation, through the registration process, to Continuing Professional Development after registration. It acknowledges that the path to acquiring competency in the practice of architecture is not always linear, and that aspects of architecture require both learning in formal education settings and continued learning in architectural practice.


Based on findings within the AACA research paper Architectural Education and the Profession in Australia and New Zealand, published in 2019, the revised NSCA includes Practice Management And Professional Conduct, which encompasses a holistic understanding of the organisation of the profession and business of architecture. These are areas where students and graduates are made aware of the business requirements of architectural practice.

Although the ACA was not able to have all of its comments and suggestions incorporated within the 2021 NSCA, a significant proportion of our submission was acknowledged in the final document.


I’d like to thank Kate Doyle (immediate past CEO of the AACA), Kathlyn Loseby (CEO of the AACA), Michelle Breen (AACA Manager Accreditation and Assessment) and fellow ERG nominees who I had the pleasure to work with.

  • Dr Tanja Glusac (WA) – AASA Nominee

  • Mr Bill Krotiris (VIC) – nominated by the ARBs as having current practice experience

  • Dr Kirsten Orr (NSW) – nominated by the Registrars of the ARBs as having experience with regulation

  • Emeritus Professor Alec Tzannes AM (NSW) – AIA Nominee

Charmaine Kai (QLD) – Expert Reference Group ACA Nominee ACA Qld/NT – Treasurer/Education


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