Second year student Olivia talks about her passion for Quantity Surveying and why she chose to study at Edinburgh Napier University.
I never chose to go to university when I was younger. A lot of my friends did and I ended up working in the finance industry instead. My career was going quite well, I ended up being a finance director for a firm in Edinburgh, it was a good job but it was high-stress. 2008 was the first time I thought about changing career and I looked at Quantity Surveying. However, going on at that time was the financial crash and everything started becoming stressful in business so I thought ‘no, you’re doing ok, keep doing what you’re doing.’
A few years later, my career got really stressful and I was turning a milestone age so I thought, “time for a change.” A friend of mine had just studied at Edinburgh Napier and she loved it. Best of all, my course is a day and a half which meant that I managed to stay working in finance, condensing my work week into three days and I could still study which is fantastic!
I was loving studying and it started to get to the point where finance was just getting in the way and I thought, if I’m going to do this, I should do it properly. I wanted to work in the industry and start applying this knowledge, so I applied to some quantity surveying jobs and now I’m working on a big project right in the centre of Edinburgh and I’m absolutely loving it.
“There’s a legal side to it, there’s a finance side to it, you’re negotiating contracts, you’re speaking to people every day, and you’re out and about.”
I was interested in Quantity Surveying because I wanted something that uses the skills I’ve got but in a way that’s more tangible. I love that there’s a legal side to it, there’s a finance side to it, you’re negotiating contracts, you’re speaking to people every day, and you’re out and about.
I’ve found I’ve got a real appetite to study, and when there’s extra reading I’m looking forward to it because I’m actually interested in it. Construction news pops up on my computer every morning and I read through it to see what’s going on – it has become a real interest and passion of mine!
“Straight away I got the sense of inclusion, everyone was so friendly.”
Speaking to lecturers and also going to an introduction day for the mature students, gave me a good impression of Edinburgh Napier. I went in and sat down, straight away I got the sense of inclusion; everyone was so friendly. A mature student is actually anyone from 21 so there were young people there, and older people, and then me - kind of in the middle - I didn’t feel like a complete alien.
You come into this environment and you hear about everyone else’s background and hear about what they’re doing. I just got that feel from Edinburgh Napier, just from that introduction day that you were well supported and there was a good spirit. I just thought if I’m ever stuck, I’m not on my own, there’s a million places I can go and it was nice. At Edinburgh Napier everything is available to you and available for you which is really nice.
Edinburgh Napier seems to have much more connection to the industry than other universities I viewed. Our lecturers and tutors are really interesting - they talk about projects that are happening now, issues that are happening now, meetings that they’ve attended, policies that are going through Scottish Government. It’s that close link to industry, the people who are teaching us are actually still involved in some level. Here I feel it’s more dynamic and forward thinking, which is where you want to be really because you don’t want to sit in a classroom for four years.
“As a woman working in the STEM industry you feel supported on that level too, and I think Edinburgh Napier is a hub for Scotland in this.”
The good feeling has definitely been reinforced. There’s a lot of males in construction, so I went along to a Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) event that Edinburgh Napier holds and the woman speaking said: “Put your hand up if you’re the only female in your class.” Two or three people put their hands up. She said it would be lovely to get to a day where no one put their hand up and no one was the only woman on their course. Just as a woman working in the STEM industry you feel supported on that level too, and I think Edinburgh Napier is a hub for Scotland in this.
It’s another feeling of inclusion, you get to meet people and make contacts. The university is very much; if you’re looking for a job, come and see us; if you’re looking for a placement, come and see us; if you’re looking for support, come and see us.
“I’m coming to university a bit older but you don’t feel like there’s anything you can’t ask them about.”
The tutors are really helpful, you never really feel that you are lumped with stuff and just left to get on with it, they’re very engaged with responding to emails quickly if you’ve got queries with anything. They’ll always take time to sit down with you and go through stuff so the support is definitely there which is really good. I’m coming to university a bit older but you don’t feel like there’s anything you can’t ask them about, there’s less of a kind of tutor-student feel to it, it’s much more of a contemporary environment – you’re all equals together, you’re all involved. It’s quite a nice environment to study in.
“It’s just about believing in yourself, believing that you can do it.”
Coming to study at Edinburgh Napier has taught me to be more disciplined. The weeks can slip by so quickly if you’re not careful and it’s made me a bit more disciplined with that which is really good.
I’ve been doing a lot of report writing on my Quantity Surveying course. Report writing, and all the things that go with it, is something I wasn’t already doing when I was more financed based - it was more spreadsheets and figures. So getting back into report writing and realising that you can do it and it’s not as impossible as it sounds at the beginning has been great. When someone says “Give me a nine-page report” or “Stand up and talk for 15 minutes” you get nervous but then you stand up to do it you realise it wasn’t so bad. It’s just about believing in yourself, believing that you can do it.
“Don’t hesitate, just do it!”
Working in construction, it’s just growth, growth, growth. I think with the skill shortage and the jobs that are out there, it’s just a really good time to be studying – whether it’s Quantity Surveying, Architecture, or anything.
Everyone I meet I just say don’t hesitate, just do it, you’ll love it. If you want to change, you’ve got to be brave enough just to make the change, it’s got to happen. You can’t just sit and think ‘what if?’
If you were to ask if I’d come back to Edinburgh Napier University I’d say absolutely.
Second year Graduate Apprentice Claire Green, explains why she chose to study Quantity Surveying at Edinburgh Napier University
“I’m studying a graduate apprenticeship in Quantity Surveying”
I’m Claire Green, I’m 23-years-old, and I’m in my second year studying Quantity Surveying as a graduate apprentice.
My employment is with the international construction and property consultants Thomas & Adamson.
“The perfect fit to achieve my aims”
After completing my HNC Quantity Surveying. I had the decision to decide on how to progress my academic qualification to achieve my aim of obtaining an Honours degree and the RICS professional qualification.
The options were either; attending university fulltime, day release university or the graduate apprenticeship scheme.
Taking into consideration my practical experience with Thomas and Adamson I concluded that the graduate apprenticeship was a perfect fit to achieve my aims.
“The wide range of projects is a great part of the job”
My working day includes many various tasks, and I continue to pick up new responsibilities. My jobs include; taking measurements, producing bills for clients, collating documents and contracts, attending progress meetings and giving valuations and final accounts.
I get to take part in a wide range of projects, which is a great part of the job. However the weekly progress meetings, billings, and valuations which occur every four weeks for each project, are the consistent aspects which fill my day.
“Hands-on experience allows me to combine the theory through my course”
Being able to gain hands-on practical experience in the field enables me to utilise and combine the theory I learn through my degree course.
Having previously studied on day release, I prefer the two-week blocks of the graduate apprenticeship, as it gives a more academic focus.
All the students on the course are employed within the industry and we all understand the challenges we face, which enables us to support each other and learn from our collective experiences.
“I have gained confidence in my ability and knowledge”
One of the key skills I have learned is the ability to deliver presentations. Previously I would shy away from presenting, but the course has given me a newfound confidence in my ability and knowledge. Along with the constructive feedback from each session, this has enabled me to tailor and improve what I say and how I say it, to ensure it is effectively received and understood.
Thanks to this, and other skills I have improved, I have been delighted with my assignment marks. Another highlight is meeting new people and building relationships with my fellow students.
“Tutors and students are friendly and supportive"
I was genuinely nervous about starting University, I had previously attended college and felt daunted by the unknown of what lay ahead. However, my tutors and fellow students were friendly and supportive, and I quickly felt comfortable and very happy to be there.
Definitely I would recommend this course to other students who are currently working within the industry without a formal qualification or those starting their career and wanting to work towards a degree.
“Tutors are always available to receive questions and provide support”
My number one thing about Napier is the communication and support that is available whilst away from campus. Due to the fact the course is two weeks on campus - three times a year, we are away from campus more than we are there. Despite this, our tutors are always available to receive questions and provide support whenever we ask.
The build-up and attending university for the first time is tough, as it’s the unknown and you don’t know what to expect. But you quickly enjoy being there. The two-week blocks are intense and hard work, so it’s really important to take plenty of notes and ask lots of questions. Use the course materials provided, the university portal Moodle is great and has plenty lecture and reading material to assist with your coursework.
Part-time Quantity Surveying student Evan Ramsay, explains why he chose the course
“The university offered the option to study part-time”
I currently study Quantity Surveying at Edinburgh Napier University on a part-time basis. The reason I chose to study this course at Edinburgh Napier was due to the locality of it being close to my home but also because the university offered the option to study the course part-time, which gave me the flexibility I was looking for.
“I made the right choice”
I definitely believe I made the right choice as by studying part-time, I can also work full time alongside this. I currently work for the construction company Laing O’Rourke, which means I can learn on the job as well as apply the knowledge I have gained from studying the course. I think this makes academic tasks such as coursework a lot easier as well as making my day-to-day job role easier also.
“The course has been rewarding in many ways”
My experience on this course so far at times has been good, but it comes with its challenges, for me it’s mainly due to time management; balancing working full-time as well as studying. However I think it’s definitely worth it as the course has been rewarding in many ways and will help me go further in my career.
Once I finish my degree, I intend to continue working for my current company, with hopes of moving up in the company.
Quantity Surveying student, Emily Docherty, talks about her experience at Edinburgh Napier University
“I’m a BSc Quantity Surveying student at Edinburgh Napier University, in my first year of study”
Anyone who has applied for quantity surveying, or is in the process of doing so, knows there’s limited universities in Scotland who offer it. With this in mind, I wanted to make sure I chose the best university for me. I researched the course at Edinburgh Napier and came to some of the open days that were put on for those who were interested in going to university.
The course content and the flexibility of the modules made it the best quantity surveying degree for my needs. The scheduling of the course allows for one and a half days a week to gain part-time work experience in the field and with Edinburgh Napier offering a quantity surveying degree part-time, I knew that the course would be flexible. This fitted in with my lifestyle and means I could get first-hand experience in the industry before I graduated.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment of university”
I’ve honestly enjoyed every moment of studying bsc quantity surveying at university. At school, I wasn’t the most studious but since coming to Edinburgh Napier and doing something I enjoy, I’ve found I’m working a lot harder than I have in the past.
I’ve started doing thigs like coming home and telling my family what I’ve learned that day, going over notes on the train to and from university, and even doing the suggested reading! I also surprised myself when I passed everything with merit in my first trimester, it adds to the reassurance that I’ve chosen the right subject. It helps that the lecturers enjoy what they’re talking about and have that open-door policy anytime, to help you if you’re struggling.
“University has improved my confidence and taught me how to put myself out there”
One of the main skills I’ve picked up from my time at university is how to network. I’ve learnt the importance of trying to speak to everyone. I’m already a chatty person, but I understand now that it’s important to put yourself out there and get to know everyone, because everyone you meet will know something that you don’t. I’ve also learnt the value of starting coursework as soon as you get it, and not putting it off. This was a lifesaver for me, it allowed me to relax in the last few weeks of a module while all my classmates were rushing to get things done.
“Construction interests me, from the initial cost plans to the final built project”
Previous to this course I’d always worked in construction related roles and had interactions with quantity surveyors. The job has always been what I want to do for the future.
The whole aspect of construction, and what is taking off in quantity surveying, interests me from the initial cost plans to the final built project so I knew as a quantity surveyor I would be part of all of it.
“I’m aiming to get a year-long industry internship in third year”
In third year, I will have the opportunity to secure a year-long quantity surveying degree placement which will be fully graded.
I’ve already been applying to summer placements in the hope of getting in with a company early on. I have also been on a site visit the new St. James Centre site in the centre of Edinburgh, which was an eye-opener, I’d recommend it to those who have never been on a construction site.
“I’d recommend the course because the modules interlink with each other very well”
I would definitely recommend the course; the modules interlink with each other very well. I’ll get a lightbulb moment when I’m sitting in a lecture sometimes, because I’ve just made a connection with what other lecturers were telling me about, and that’s really satisfying. I also like that we are mixed in with all the other surveyors, it’s a great way to meet new people and learn from them as sometimes our jobs can intertwine.
“My advice would be to do your research”
My advice to people considering studying quantity surveying would be to do your research. It’s important to find out what quantity surveying actually is and how it is used, as this will help you to make sure you’re choosing the right course.
Come to the university, go to open days, email the lecturers and ask questions. These are ways that will help give you a better understanding of the course and they will give you much more information than reading the blurb on the website.
Lastly, apply. If you’re like me, you will enjoy the course and be excited by the possibilities of where quantity surveying can lead you.