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Is an A profession a big deal? The mental condition of the academic architecture community in Poland

27 of March '24

"College or health. The choice is yours." Such a warning should be included in information about architectural studies at Polish universities. The conclusion emerges after reading a report on the mental condition of students and teaching staff. As many as 78 percent of those surveyed recognize that studying architecture negatively affects their mental state.

Thesurveys, under the banner of "Profession for A," were conducted since late last summer. Their initiators and animators are members of the Academic Association of the Faculty of Architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology. They were supported in the substantive development of the survey by specialists in psychology and sociology (list of people involved in the project - below ).

„Zawód na A” — badanie kondycji psychicznej w środowisku akademickim architektury

"Profession on A" - Survey of mental condition in the academic environment of architecture - one of the pages of the report - composition of the research team


Before the surveys were compiled, an exploratory workshop was held, and the first survey took place in October 2023. The second - in February this year. We'll know the full report in more than a month, but already the comprehensive summary of the first round of surveys comes out rather grim, which probably coincides with the intuition and experience of many current and former architecture students. However, hunches and anecdotal evidence are not enough. Therefore, the authors of the study write:

We often hear in our community that architectural studies are incredibly demanding, and that those studying and teaching every semester are pushed to the limits of fatigue and overwork. We have unanimously decided that in order to change this and initiate a discussion about the future of the architectural community, we need data.

I'm resting, I'm guilty

The authors of the project warn right away that this is a quantitative survey. The questionnaires - after the campaign was widely publicized - were filled out by those who wanted to. The group of respondents is therefore not representative of all students and lecturers. Nevertheless, the number of people who filled out the surveys is large enough to make the results worth noting. About 2,200 students and 200 teachers responded to the interviewers' questions. Among the students, the survey's participants were mostly women (81 percent!). In the case of teaching staff, the genders are represented almost equally. Among both students and teaching staff, the largest number is from the Warsaw University of Technology (19 and 31 percent, respectively).

So much for the introduction. Now it's time for the most electrifying specifics. The negative impact of studying architecture on mental state is reported by 77.9 percent of respondents. On the other hand, 67.7 percent are unaware of the form of psychological help offered by the university and do not know how to take advantage of it. Nearly three-quarters of respondents agree with the statement

I can't relax, and when I do, I feel guilty/guilty.

Too sensitive?

What is behind such pessimistic opinions? The survey confirms what is more or less known: overwork, over-occupation, sleep deprivation. The manner of communication between didacticians and students can be assessed as problematic. Among students, 60 percent believe that

instructors_e do not realize how much we have to study.

Some 60 percent of the students also believe that the instructors do not consider the mental condition of the students as a matter of importance. In contrast, 38 percent of teachers say that mental conditioning is important, but that students are overly sensitive about it. At the same time, the report reports that therapy with a psychologist is used or has been used by a total of half of the students. From psychiatric treatment - a quarter.

„Zawód na A” — badanie kondycji psychicznej w środowisku akademickim architektury

"Profession at A" - A study of the mental condition in the academic environment of architecture - one of the pages of the report - causes of problems


idealism in the trash

Another issue: money. Studying architecture has always required more cash. And that hasn't changed. Stress is therefore caused by the need to raise funds, and exhaustion can be caused by gainful employment. This is taken up by half of the students, of whom about 50 percent work in the profession.

„Zawód na A” — badanie kondycji psychicznej w środowisku akademickim architektury

"Occupation at A" - A study of mental condition in the academic environment of architecture - one of the pages of the report - the intensity of negative emotions


The report shows these and many other data in clear diagrams and charts. Thus, we can also find, among other things, the number of hours spent per week studying, the cost of equipment necessary for study and work, information on the form of residence, being in a relationship, or data on the intensity of negative emotions or commitment to study among students. There is also a set of statements that respondents could identify with on a scale of 1 (totally disagree) to 5 (totally agree). Almost four points were scored by the opinion that

My studies have deprived me of idealistic illusions about the essence of the profession of architect_ woman

The overtone of this particular sentence can be evaluated in two ways (pity idealism, although illusions, however, it is better to get rid of), but the others are already more explicit. At the same time, it is interesting to compare opinions and results of surveys among students and teachers, especially in the case of the same or similar statements or questions (surveys for both groups differed).

„Zawód na A” — badanie kondycji psychicznej w środowisku akademickim architektury

"Profession at A" - Survey of mental condition in architecture academia - one of the pages of the report - opinions about architecture


What's next. In May, we are expected to learn about the overall report, which will compare the opinions and attitudes of those surveyed at the beginning and end of the semester (February). After that, it will be useful to determine what actually causes the reported problems. Survey declarations are subjective, so they should be the starting point for a factual analysis of the phenomena indicated in them. And ultimately - to reform the way of teaching and change the approach to studies. On the last page of the report you will find a summary of the demands of students. There is, therefore, something to start with.

Jakub Głaz

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