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IfA and Charter; FAQs

Charter: what will it mean?

IfA’s Petition for a Royal Charter of Incorporation was considered by the Privy Council at its meeting on 11 February 2014, and Her Majesty the Queen was pleased to sign the Order of Grant.

There are a few more steps to go before the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists comes into being and the IfA can use its new name, and as soon as we have a date for this we will let members know. In the meantime we have put together the following FAQs sheet to give you a bit more information about what it will mean. If you have any additional questions please get in touch or email alex.llewellyn@archaeologists.net.

Why have we become Chartered?

Becoming a chartered institute will significantly raise the profile of the Institute and the archaeological profession. It brings us in step with other chartered professions such as architects, planners, surveyors and engineers etc and in turn it will raise the profile of accredited members of the Institute. Achieving chartered status for the Institute has been in our Strategic Plan for a long time, and has been something members have been keen to pursue. About four years ago we decided that the Institute was in a position to achieve this recognition and started work to submit a formal application to the Privy Council.

What does Charter mean?

To be clear, at this stage it is the Institute itself that will be Chartered and not its individual members (see below). In the past Royal Charters were the only means of incorporating a body (turning a collection of individuals into a single legal entity). Now this can be done through other means, such as becoming a registered company, so the granting of a Royal Charter is comparatively rare. New grants of royal charters are ‘reserved for eminent professional bodies or charities which have a solid record of achievement’ (Privy Council website).

This is a significant step forward for archaeology as a profession and something to celebrate, but is not the end of the process. Members of other professions will recognise the stamp of charter and look for individuals and organisations who are linked to chartered bodies but we still need to work with members, Registered Organisations and colleagues across a range of bodies including the National Agencies, ALGAO and FAME to ensure that the grant of Charter brings real benefits to the profession.

What will change?

Right now, nothing formal as far as our constitution and governance is concerned. The Privy Council has made an Order of Grant but the Charter will not come into effect until the Great Seal has been applied to the vellum copy. Then we can take steps to set up the new Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. This will be a new body governed by the new Charter and by-laws (www.archaeologists.net/charter), and the current Institute will cease to exist. A date for this will be announced when we are clearer on what the timescales will be. The intervening period gives us an opportunity to ensure as smooth a transition as soon as possible to the new body for our members.

How will individual membership change?

The grant of Charter will mean that the Institute is more recognisable to outside bodies – employers, clients/commissioners, other professionals – as equivalent to Chartered bodies such as RICS, RIBA, RTPI and the various engineering professional bodies. Its members will, similarly, be recognised as skilled professionals adhering to high technical and ethical standards of practice equivalent to those governing the work of the allied professionals alongside which they often work.

In very practical terms the only change to membership once the Chartered Institute is formed will be that all accredited members will have new post-nominals to recognise they are now members of the Chartered Institute. For example, PIfA would change to PCIfA. Members will still be bound by by-laws and regulations as with the current Institute.

When will there be a ‘chartered archaeologist’?

Being granted the powers to award chartered status to individual archaeologists is a separate process and would need to be agreed by the Privy Council by means of an amendment to the Charter. How it might be awarded, the criteria for achieving the status of ‘Chartered Archaeologist’ and even whether that’s desirable, are all questions that CIfA’s Board of Directors would need to consult its Advisory Council and members about extensively.

Should I apply to join IfA now or wait until the Chartered Institute is established?

If you are interested in applying to join IfA or are in the process of putting together a new application it is not necessary to wait for the new Chartered Institute to exist. Once this happens all current members of IfA will automatically be transferred to CIfA. The process for applying to join CIfA will remain the same as for IfA.

What will it mean for a Registered Organisation?

This is very similar to what it means to individual members in that they will be organisations registered with the Chartered Institute. Again, the grant of Charter will mean that the Institute is more recognisable to outside bodies – employers, clients/commissioners, other professionals – as equivalent to Chartered bodies such as RICS, RIBA, RTPI and the various engineering professional bodies. Its Registered Organisations will, similarly, be recognised organisations adhering to high technical and ethical standards of practice equivalent to those governing the work of the allied professionals alongside which they often work.

However, it is important to remember that individuals who work for registered organisations are only accredited with the Chartered Institute if they have demonstrated and achieved professional accreditation through the validation process. Working for a registered organisation does not achieve that individual professional recognition.

How will a Charter affect pay and conditions?

By itself, having a Charter will not automatically improve pay and conditions for archaeologists. However, it gives the Institute, its members and Registered Organisations a much stronger voice with which to promote the value of the work carried out by archaeologists, the high level of skills and qualifications they have and the importance of commissioning work from appropriately accredited organisations. If we are able to work together as a profession and grasp the opportunity afforded by the grant of Charter to promote the value of our work, we may see improvements in remuneration as a result.

What can members do?

Once the Royal Charter has been granted you will be able to use your new post-nominals to raise the profile of your professional accreditation, and explain what they mean. We will let you know the date from which you can use your new post-nominals, but for now you should continue to use your existing post-nominals. And you will be able to look for those post-nominals from those you work with and expect that they should also be able to demonstrate the same professional recognition and ethical competence that you have.

Will I need to confirm my commitment to abide by the Code of conduct?

No. The draft by-laws and regulations have all been approved by members through the AGM process, and will be binding on the members of CIfA.

IfA is mentioned in a lot of documents, including government guidance. Does a change of name endanger what we’ve achieved so far by making this guidance redundant?

Not at all. As when we changed from the Institute of Field Archaeologists to trade as the Institute for Archaeologists, the work of the Institute will still be in place and will be associated with the Chartered Institute. It will be clear on our website that we were formerly the Institute for Archaeologists.

Do I have to change my business stationery right away?

Not right away, but it would be useful to consider this when you are planning to next update. We will have a new logo for the Chartered Institute but do not want to lose the branding identity we have established with the Institute, so it will be similar. As above, it will be clear on our website that we were formerly the Institute for Archaeologists. Again, we will let you know the date from which you can use the new name and logo.

Can I still refer to IfA standards in my work or will I have to change the references to CIfA standards?

Again, it’s not essential to do this immediately, but would be useful to plan for over time. The standards will become those of the Chartered Institute, but it will be clear that the Institute for Archaeologists and the Institute of Field Archaeologist were succeeded by the Chartered Institute.

Will my subscriptions increase?

The process for deciding annual subscriptions will not be affected by the Institute’s successful application for Chartered status. Subscriptions will continue to be reviewed and agreed on an annual basis by Council (or Advisory Council and Board of Directors once governance changes have been introduced) and will relate to the same parameters which are considered at the moment (such as inflation, cost of living and your membership package).

Will I need to amend my direct debit?

No, this will all be done behind the scenes in liaison with our bank. Direct debits will remain in place as they are now.

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