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Architecture student salary expectations 20% above reality

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Part 1 students salary expectations are nearly £4,000 above what employers are willing to pay them upon graduation – according to a survey by RIBA Appointments and Newcastle University

Carried out between October and December 2011, the survey revealed students hope to start jobs on £20,800 after completing their courses but employers are only likely to offer £17,000.

Around 79 per cent of employers said graduates lacked the practical skills needed to practice architecture.

Meanwhile 82 per cent of employers and 78 per cent of students agreed students should spend more time learning in practice.

Student respondents called for links between universities and the industry and its employers and more help winning professional placements.

Most students and employers agreed courses should be cheaper but only 39 per cent of students and 37 per cent of employers believed they should be shorter.

RIBA Appointments’ Paul Chappell said: ‘The last few years have been incredibly difficult for architectural graduates with practices often receiving over 500 applications per job.

‘We have however noticed an improvement recently and more opportunities are available for the right candidates. This survey though highlights the different expectations of employers and graduates and the importance of matching skill requirements when looking for work.’

Newcastle University architecture school’s senior lecturer and director of learning John Kamara added: ‘The survey provides a comparison of the perceptions of students and employers that will be very useful in assisting architecture schools to tailor their programmes to better meet undergraduates’ needs and the needs of architectural employers.

‘It is a timely study that will make a positive contribution to the development of skills for architectural practice.’


Key survey findings:


  • 68 per cent of employers identified design skills as being the main skills that students needed to develop
  • Both students (90 per cent) and employers (95 per cent) rated computer drafting as the most important technical skill
  • Writing skills and buildings surveys were perceived as significantly more important technical skills by employers (than students) with specification writing ranked by employers as the  skill students needed to develop most (61 per cent)
  • Most employers (83 per cent) expected students to have good skills in AutoCAD but had significantly less expectancy or interest in their proficiency with adobe software (Photoshop, InDesign)
  • Whilst both groups recognised sustainability and building regulations as important knowledge areas, BIM (Building Information Modelling) was seen by 59 per cent of students as a key knowledge area to develop compared with only 31 per cent of employers
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