Foundation Member of the ARA (FMARA)


Foundation member submission criteria and information

Foundation (FMARA) provides professional recognition for a wide range of individuals including;

  • professionals who do not hold an ARA accredited academic qualification in archives, records management or conservation
  • volunteers and apprentices
  • graduate professionals with an accredited academic qualification

Eligibility and enrolment

To enrol onto the Foundation programme candidates must be an Individual member of the ARA. Student members are also eligible to enrol. The ARA recommends that candidates must also have a minimum of one years’ relevant work experience, including voluntary experience, before submitting their application for assessment.

Please note that we are currently offering free enrolment onto the programme. From January 2019 an enrolment fee will be paid. Please refer to the professional development programme webpage for fee information.


We recommend that all candidates find a mentor, who should be a Foundation, Registered member or Fellow of the ARA. The role of the mentor is to support and guide the candidate’s professional development as they build their Foundation portfolio ready for submission and assessment. Candidates should find their own mentor where possible, but a list of suitable mentors can be requested by candidates once they have enrolled onto the programme. We recommend candidates read the ARA’s guidance for mentors to help prepare them for working with a mentor.

Developing the portfolio

Candidates must use the ARA’s competency submission form for each competency included in their portfolio. The form provides the correct structure for candidates to use in the preparation of their evidence.

In June 2018 the ARA will have launched its online professional development programme which will enable candidates to enrol, build their competency portfolios (mentors will be able to review and comment on the draft content) and submit to the ARA for assessment online.

The success of a submission depends on the strength of the evidence presented in the competency submission form. It is therefore vital that candidates submit forms that clearly demonstrate how they meet the required competency standard (level). Candidates may use evidence gained over a 10 year period in their competency submission form.

Candidates should discuss the drafting of their competency submission forms with their mentor. Candidates have the option of submitting up to three additional pieces of information to support the evidence presented in each form.

Candidates are encouraged to use the approaches outlined in the ARA’s CPD webpage to help them plan, record and reflect on their development.

Structure of portfolio

The candidate must submit a portfolio for assessment that consists of the following:

  • A current CV
  • Mentor reference (maximum of 500 words)
  • 6 completed competency submission forms, each with a maximum of 1000 words. Each competency form must be at a minimum of attainment levels 1-2 with:
    • a maximum of 3 competencies at level 1
    • a minimum of 3 competencies at level 2
    • at least 1 competency from each of the 3 areas
  • Each documented competency should include:
  • the context in which the competency was developed
  • a brief description of the activities undertaken
  • a brief description of the candidate’s progression and learning
  • evaluation of, and reflection upon, the development
  • follow-up details of how this learning continues to be of benefit or may be used in the future
  • evidence to validate the competency that demonstrates candidate learning.

Portfolio submission and assessment

Candidates must notify the Programme Manager six months in advance of their intention to submit their application for assessment so that resources can be allocated.

Portfolios must be submitted for assessment electronically before the published deadline. The assessment fee must be paid before the portfolio can be accepted. Portfolios will be assessed anonymously by a Registered or Fellow member of the ARA who is trained in the assessment of portfolios. Each assessment round will take approximately two months to complete, but some rounds may take longer depending on the number of received submissions.

Registered applications should be submitted for assessment in January and July each year. Actual submission dates will be published on the ARA website.

Professional qualification and title

Following a successful assessment, candidates will be able to describe themselves as a Foundation Member of the ARA, and use the designatory letters FMARA (Foundation Member, Archives & Records Association).

Foundation members are encouraged to celebrate their success and use FMARA in their online profiles, email signatories, business cards and other related stationery and publications. The names of those awarded Foundation status will be recorded in the official ARA Register and published in ARC magazine.

Following a successful application, Foundation members should continue with their professional development by following the guidance published in the ARA CPD webpages. Revalidation will be required every five years in order to retain Foundation member status.

Appeals’ process

Candidates have the right to appeal against the assessment decision using the ARA’s published appeals’ procedure.

Candidates who do not pass the assessment process have the option to resubmit a revised portfolio. Candidates resubmitting should ensure they have read and understood feedback provided by the assessor. The same application, assessment criteria and submission fee will apply for a resubmission.

Loss or removal of status

Foundation members who lapse their membership of the ARA will lose their Foundation status. They will no longer be entitled to describe themselves as a Foundation Member of the ARA or use the designatory letters FMARA.

Lapsed Foundation members who re-join the ARA will be required to reapply for Foundation status by submission of portfolio for assessment.

Foundation members who do not revalidate their status after five years will be returned to Individual membership. They will no longer be entitled to describe themselves as a Foundation Member of the ARA or use the designatory letters FMARA.


Enrolment and submission fees are published on the professional development programme webpage.


All CPD, competency framework and professional development programme enquiries should be made to the CPD Programme Manager This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., phone 07377 940696 or Twitter @ARACPD