I had an email today asking me whether someone should do the 1 year or the 2 year version of the UCD postgraduate planning programme. The choice according to the UCD website is now between:
Master of Regional and Urban Planning (MRUP)
Master's Degree in Planning Policy and Practice (MSc)
MRUP, which I took myself, is described as:
The Master of Regional and Urban Planning degree is the gold-standard Master's planning programme in the UK and Ireland. Moreover, it is the only planning degree with professional accreditation from both the Irish Planning Institute and the Royal Town Planning Institute. Being a two-year full-time Master's degree it is equivalent to mainland European and US professional planning qualifications and thus qualifies successful graduates to work in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US. The MRUP offers students the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and values fundamental to a career in planning. The degree offers a unique blend of lectures, studio-based learning and independent study.
The MSc is described as:
From September 2005 the Department is also offering a Master's degree in Planning Policy and Practice. This is a twelve-month full-time degree which is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute and qualifies successful graduates to work in the UK. This degree is equivalent to other one-year Masters' planning degrees being offered in Britain and Northern Ireland.
Therefore, it appears from these descriptions that MRUP is the benchmark educational standard for the UCD planning programme (and in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US). The other is simply a one year degree aimed at people who want to work in the UK. This doesn't seem to make sense, as the training for planners here in Ireland should be aimed at meeting the Irish market.
What appears to be going on here is that so many people want to do planning at present and the two year MRUP is so over-subscribed that the one year programme is cashing in on demand. A nice little earner for UCD. This seems a little unfair given that graduates of a one year programme in planning simply cannot compete with those who have the two year MRUP, the two year Queen's Belfast programme, the four year DIT programme (or possibly other fledgling programmes coming on line round the country). The question is: "Can a person become a planner in one year?" The answer, simply, is no.
My answer to the email which sparked this response was that if she hoped to get a job in planning whebn she graduated, she should, if she is successful in her application, do the MRUP degree - The Gold Standard, as the MSc can only be seen as second best by the majority of Irish planners and planner employers, like myself, who continue to hold the MRUP degree.