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Does anyone know about ARCHITECTURE at uni - advice needed

(22 Posts)
debjud Mon 04-May-15 10:26:44

Am particularly interested in hearing from people who are architects, or have experience of uni degrees in architecture

DD has almost finished first year of Produce Design course at Leeds. Has been unhappy with the course and has reapplied to new unis to do architecture. (She had already been muttering about architecture while we were doing open days last year, but she went ahead with PD anyway)

BUT - aside from the course, she is having a brilliant time in Leeds, especially with a tight group of friends she has made, has a place in a house next year, playing for uni cricket team etc

So she has offers now to do architecture at all the unis she applied for and is trying to decide between Edinburgh and Leeds Beckett. (There is also a possibility that she might stay on her PD course - still to talk through with her tutors).

The dilemma for her is:

1 Go to a v reputable uni where she will have to get to know new people all over again - but the course looks fabulous. Ed is rated approx 3 - 6th for architecture on riba website

2 Stay in Leeds where she is v happy, but go to a less reputable uni - (LB rated approx 37 on riba website). She also knows a lot of LB students through playing uni cricket

3 Does the uni you went to matter hugely for doing the next part of architecture qualifications? Or does showing what you can do - portfolio etc matter more?

Both the courses are 4 years, so nothing to choose there. So leaving finances out of it for the moment ........

As a parent, I guess you're all thinking it's a no-brainer - she'll make new friends etc. But she's panicking, starting all this anxiety that we saw last summer etc.

Obviously it's not my decision to make - but she does talk everything through with me. What would you advise yours?

debjud Mon 04-May-15 10:44:32

Should also say that there is no straight architecture degree at Leeds Uni (only architectural engineering which she doesn't want to do)

wonkylegs Mon 04-May-15 10:47:25

It depends a bit on whether she is doing an architecture degree as a general stepping stone degree or as a route to being an architect.
If she wants to become an architect she must remember that the degree is only part one of three qualifications .
You can do these a different places but lots of people stay in one place usually for 7-8 years and generally tend to have course based friends as after the first 3 years everybody else you know outside the course leaves to go to work. Not every uni does all the parts of the course. You also tend to have quite course based friends due to the long hours, all nighters and the nature of the studio based work.

Generally I think the more important aspect of the course is getting places for your year out - this can be very difficult so asking where people are getting placed and what connections the uni has with local practices is very important. You must do this year in practice and it can be quite hard to get places but once you do it can really open doors or make and break and career later on.

What university is the 'best' can fluctuate quite wildly over your time there... Mine went from no.2 to dropping a long long way down the list by my second degree due to staff changes.
I chose my uni for the city and the slant of the course (not too science/arty kind of in the middle) .
I found my work placements were far more influential on my career than my degree in the end.

DaisyChain87 Mon 04-May-15 10:57:14

Hello! My DP is an architect. He says that it's also worth considering what style of architecture course the universities offer. They tend to be either very art based with a heavily bias towards very conceptual design or courses which are a bit more technically based with courses in structural aspects and construction types. Your DD should consider which she prefers.

DP says that he would go to Edinburgh out of the 2, because it's more suited to the kind of architecture he was interested in. He doesn't think that placement would be affected by the uni, provided that your DD was willing to travel. He works in a big practice and employs a lot of graduates/ placement students.

Hope this helps OP!

Lurgano Mon 04-May-15 11:12:22

My son is looking to study architecture starting in 2016. From all of the various league tables we have reviewed (which?, complete uni guide, Sunday Times, Guardian etc) the top 5 by reputation seem consistent over time and also across all the different measures - they are Bath, Cambridge, Edinburgh, UCL - then either Sheffield or Cardiff. The next tier down (6th-15th) seems to fluctuate across the different tables etc and is where some of the old polys have come into their own and the specialism is paying off with really impressive employability ratings - notably Northumbia, UWE and De Montford. Leeds Beckett is right at the bottom of these lists. My hunch would be given the huge gap in ratings for the same cost that it is really a no brainer.....

Lurgano Mon 04-May-15 11:19:57

Also OP on our read thru of architecture courses there was an option to move directly into yr2 from other courses and other unis if the course content was appropriate (case by case basis) - this might be an option for your DD - save a year of fees/costs/time? This was the case at Newcastle - she might be able to negotiate this at Ed or Leeds.

debjud Mon 04-May-15 12:33:21

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

wonky - I don't think she's sure what she wants to do with it yet. She's very into ecology/permaculture and has been talking about continuing at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, but that's now. Who knows what she'll be into in 4 years' time?

daisy - In taking on placement students and graduates, would your DP be influenced by which uni people were coming from, or would the interest be mainly on what the prospective person could do?

lurgano - well yes, my instincts too. I think she's investigated the going straight into Y2, but would rather not miss what's on offer in Y1

wonkylegs Mon 04-May-15 14:54:54

She will evolve whatever she does, it's inevitable I just wondered if she saw it as a long term aspiration or just something she likes the look of.
It's really common not to do the complete 7yrs - of the 120 I started my 1st degree with only about 40 of us are fully qualified and registered architects - funnily enough one of them is very heavily involved with CAT (she loves it and undertook graduate study there) From my uni most of those who have ended up as registered architects had a strong drive to do that from the beginning and knew that's exactly what they were doing.
Some of those that didn't do work in allied professions or as non registered architectural designers/assistants, others went on to to all sorts of other things - banker, DJ, several photographers, planner, joiner, eco consultant, lecturer.
It's a good springboard degree as it encompasses a wide range of skills. I think the more traditional uni's I've been involved in always feel like they are better at teaching students to talk and present their work verbally whereas the new uni here has outstanding technical work.
Most of my recent involvement with uni's has been with my two local ones as I have recruited from them and been a mentor for students through the RIBA & Generation 4 Change.

debjud Mon 04-May-15 15:08:15

wonky - by new uni here do you mean Leeds B? Or one local to you?

wonkylegs Mon 04-May-15 16:24:36

Sorry the one local to me (Newcastle/Northumbria) I don't know anybody who has been in the Leeds B course although I did have an architectural assistant who did his part 2 there when it was Leeds Met. If I recall it was a little disorganised at the time, I would hope it has improved since then.

debjud Tue 05-May-15 09:07:33

Thanks to all of you who responded so speedily - all really helpful stuff. Just bumping this now in case there's anyone else out there who might contribute - then going to get all this info to DD for her to peruse

Millymollymama Tue 05-May-15 17:43:40

My gut reaction is that it could matter what course she does for architecture because getting a job cannot be guaranteed so going to the best university possible and one that has contacts, helps. Although my DH recruits civil and structural engineers, their ability to understand the basic requirements of engineering design is more important than university, but he would wonder why a well qualified young person had selected a low ranking university. It implies you did not really want to push yourself.

Cricket is played at Edinburgh by the way. My DDs friend was the coach for the women's team a couple of years back!

debjud Tue 05-May-15 20:02:49

Thanks milly. Unfortunately she has a precedent for this - she turned out a 6th form place at a selective grammar to stay and her somewhat mediocre comp and did brilliantly well. But I'm not sure that what worked at 6th form is going to work here ..........

debjud Tue 05-May-15 20:05:00

I meant 'turned down'.....

Millymollymama Tue 05-May-15 22:44:47

As she has chosen a course she now does not like, she is not right all of the time! I think you are in a difficult position. I suppose she will be ok for two years at a Leeds, but architecture is longer than that. What happens after he friends leave?

Lurgano Wed 06-May-15 10:24:25

I think that you can use the 6th form choice to your advantage -- you could suggest to your DD that she chose not to 'branch out" for 6th form and stayed where she was -- maybe for friendship reasons -- but she has proven that by moving to Leeds she can easily make friends -- she has done it one and she can do it again.

I think that your DD needs to be really really careful here if she really wants a career in architecture.

We all know that the profession is in crisis - many jobs lost in recession, low wages, skills replaced by technology or to other professionals (structural engineers etc) .... so there are limited jobs ...but I am not aware that there has been a cut in the number of uni places offered to reflect this over the past few years.

I suggest that there is a oversupply of architects coming out into a work place with very limited job opportunities - there is nothing to suggest that this situation will reverse. Who will get the small number of jobs available? Obviously those with the best skills from the unis which offer the best training.

The over supply of uni courses in relation to the reality of employment prospects is a scandal really. Unis sell under graduate courses that are popular with no regard for the graduate job market place and the huge emotional and financial investment for the student.

Law is a classic case - 17,000 students graduate each year - there are only 4000 training places - so 13,000 graduates will not get to progress their career in law. I suggest that the 4000 jobs will mostly go to the graduates from the top 6 uni.

titchy Wed 06-May-15 14:53:04

Probably pointing out the obvious but the Edinburgh course is four years long and she is only eligible for three more years of fee and maintenance loan, so unless she has direct entry to second year at Edinburgh someone's pockets will need to be very deep for her final year if she goes north of the border.

Millymollymama Wed 06-May-15 15:06:00

Not exactly Lurgano. The top six universities are not always best placed to fill the training contracts in other areas of the country nor do you take into account the fact that 50% of lawyers and barristers do not have an undergraduate law degree. They have a 1st degree in something else. This makes it even more competitive. I am married to a Structural Engineer who is the senior partner in the firm. I can assure you they do not do the work of an architect! They work with architects to make their designs stand up - as my DH says. The would no more get involved with the design of a building than an architect should get involved with the structural design of a building. They are different disciplines and the training is different but working collaboratively is important. It is true, however, that architecture jobs are difficult to secure so going to the best universities, with good contacts for work, puts the student in a stronger position.

debjud Wed 06-May-15 15:17:20

Thanks to you all. Now I'm going to let her see all of your helpful comments in case it helps her decide.

Titchy - yes, we have talked about money! We don't have deep pockets, but think we might be able to pull it together for one year - a combination of her own savings and ours...... It won't be easy, but I don't want that to be the deciding factor

mmm and lurgano - helpful suggestions, thanks. DD certainly isn't right all the time - and she knows it. And this is what's making her so anxious I think - that she might not make the 'right' decision either way.

Last summer she got so anxious that it tipped over into depression for which she was prescribed anti-depressants (which she didn't take in the end - I think the talk with the psychiatrist helped her a lot). But I really want to help her make the decision that's right for her, whatever that might be.

Millymollymama Wed 06-May-15 15:40:05

debjud. My DD gets anxious and had problems with underachievement at A levels due to this so I do understand. On another thread a poster has just said that the average grades of architecture students at Leeds Beckett is BBB so if she has better than that, Leeds is pitching rather low. Good luck in the decision making.

wonkylegs Wed 06-May-15 15:57:44

I hope I'm not speaking out of turn here OP but if your daughter has suffered from anxiety then I thought it prudent to point out that architecture is a very high pressure course with an awful lot of having to deal with personal critique of your work in front of an audience of your peers it is not always an nice/easy process and at least at my uni you had to develop a thick skin even for positive criticism. I think presenting your work in crits is one of the hardest things to get used to in the first degree. Some people left because they hadn't realised quite how much of the course involved doing this.
It's actually a very useful skill once you start working (unwelcoming public planning meetings spring to mind) but it can be soul destroying to start with. I struggled with depression due being diagnosed with a chronic disease whilst doing my course and this was when I found this process most difficult.
I hope that she would cope with this fine but I thought it would be a good idea to warn her as I do know many people don't realise this aspect of the course.

debjud Wed 06-May-15 16:35:21

Thanks for this wonky. Yes, a practising architect friend of a friend has just explained this way of learning to me. I will certainly talk to her about this. She is very good and passionate at talking about her work - but not sure how she will react to constant criticism like this.

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