The impact of RICS education reform on building surveying

Sara Wilkinson (Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia)
Mike Hoxley (Department of Built Environment, Anglia Polytechnic University, Chelmsford, UK)

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Publication date: 1 December 2005



It is of major concern to the surveying profession that the seven years between 1994 and 2001 witnessed a decline in the numbers of UK student surveyors of nearly 50 per cent. This was significant, especially when considered in the context of rising student numbers overall. The RICS decided to implement an education policy with the aim of increasing graduate quality. Changes were introduced in UK universities from September 2001. A number of universities saw their professionally accredited courses withdrawn as the RICS imposed academic entry standards and research output based on the UK Government's Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) criteria on which to base their “partnership” relationships. Figures released by the RICS in 2003 indicated that surveying student numbers increased by 17 per cent in all areas except building surveying, where they fell by just under 25 per cent to 445 in 2001. The paper seeks to answer a number of questions. Why were building surveying courses failing to recruit students whereas other surveying courses have increased their numbers? If the figures continue to decline or remain at these low levels, what is the future for the BS? In short, could building surveying become an endangered profession?


All UK university BS course leaders were approached by questionnaire and approximately half responded. The study was partly funded by the RICS Education Trust.


The small amount of quantitative data collected suggests that recruitment is static at a time when other built environment courses are recruiting well. Course leaders expressed strong views about the impact of the education reforms.

Research limitations/implications

Failure by some BS course leaders to provide some statistical data prevented completion of the quantitative part of the study.


Key recommendations have been made to the BS Faculty Board of the RICS about the future of BS education.



Wilkinson, S. and Hoxley, M. (2005), "The impact of RICS education reform on building surveying", Structural Survey, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 359-370.

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