The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising - an industry body representing Britain's advertising and marketing communications agencies - has decided to toughen membership criteria both in its corporate and personal categories.

The initiative is intended to raise the real and perceived value of IPA membership.

On the corporate front, the IPA will require a conditional commitment from all 237 member agencies to practice continuous professional development.

Any agency failing to make such a commitment by the IPA Council meeting in December 2007 will be given a final opportunity to do so in March 2008 before facing the ultimate sanction of expulsion from membership the following month. All new members since December have agreed to take part in the programme.

On the individual side, future MIPA (professional recognition) status will depend upon applicants passing either the IPA Foundation Certificate or IPA Excellence Diploma examinations. The sole exception will be any member who has already earned agency senior board status.

Says FCB chairman/ceo John Banks, also chairman of the IPA membership committee responsible for the upgrading move: "These important changes reflect the need for us to demonstrate the increasing professionalism of our business.

"Membership - in either the corporate or personal category - should represent a widely recognized quality standard to the business community. The 2008 deadline also means that we are ensuring there is enough time for all IPA member agencies to be able to adhere to these new obligations in addition to the existing rigorous financial and structural criteria."

Data sourced from Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (UK); additional content by WARC staff