I’m very pleased to say that I am a Chartered Quantity Surveyor after recently having passed my APC. I’m delighted to be recognised for my dedication to the profession and industry, and I take pride in my position. However, things weren’t quite so happy after my previous attempt a year before.
May 2016 was the upcoming date of my APC Final Assessment. I had written a very thorough submission document, studied incredibly hard and undertaken a substantial number of mock interviews. Out of the group of peers attempting the APC that session, I was perhaps considered the strongest candidate to succeed. However, come the crucial day, I was the only one of my peers not to succeed and had to accept the brutal reality of a referral whilst peers, some of whom were at a lesser level, celebrated their newly acquired letters after their name. Those who have been in a similar situation may understand that ‘crushed’ is a very fitting description of feeling at such a time.
A Time For Questions
So – what went wrong? Did forget the Global Ethical Standards? Was I ill? Did I freeze like a rabbit in headlights?
Actually, no. None of the above. I delivered my presentation at a duration of 10 minutes to the second, I wasn’t nervous and I gave clear and concise answers to the questions presented to me. However, I felt that the conduct of the panel itself was of a questionable nature.
Questions were sometimes focussed upon what the assessors wanted my experience to centre around, not what it actually was. I witnessed the panel arguing between themselves and, at one point, the panel mocking me for my style of answering. To be sure, it was an odd interview – I think even the panel members would admit to that. However, to bring that into context, I believe that the conduct of the panel that day was to the detriment of my APC success.
So, what to do in such a situation? The RICS operate an appeals process for instances where the candidate believes that they have been treated unfairly. I thought that I had a very straightforward case for an appeal, however, speaking to several experienced surveyors, each and every one told me not to bother. This is because the process is lengthy (6 months overall), very few cases are successful, it costs £100 and the most that you can ever gain out of it is a ‘free attempt’. A successful appeal does not mean that your referral is overturned, merely that you are allowed to re-sit it without paying the entrance fee again. So, those were seemingly my options. Stay silent and accept that sometimes people are treated unfairly in the APC, or try and highlight the poor conduct to the RICS through a process which is seemingly stacked against me.
The thing I love about the RICS is the ideology of ‘standards’, and their dedication to that cause. That day, certain standards fell short and I felt that, if I highlighted them to the RICS, those comments would be well received. Indeed they were. In my search for a fitting response to my treatment that day, I found a very simple and perhaps obvious solution – complain. I knew that I couldn’t have my referral overturned, but I felt compelled to make my experience known. Firstly, so that the panel on that day were aware that their conduct was unacceptable to me but, more importantly, that the RICS are aware of sometimes differing standards in their processes.
I received a prompt response from the RICS stating that the panel members would all be subject to an assessor in the next sitting, and that I was marked as a conflict of interest against them so that I would be certain never to have them in another APC interview again. I believe in the APC process, but it has to be on the premise of a common standard. And so, I leave you with that message. If something is unacceptable, make it known. If enough of us do so, we can change things for the better.