How does the Sava diploma differ from a degree?.

Original Article
May 9th, 2024


Traditionally, university has been the primary route into the residential surveying profession, but with strict entry requirements and a commitment to 3-5 years of learning, it’s not the most accessible. For years, the industry has suffered from a skills shortage with the number of surveyors reaching retirement age vastly outweighing new surveyors coming into the profession. The ABBE Level 6 Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation was developed by Sava in response to this skills shortage, providing a new pathway to qualification for those without a degree, or for whom attending university was simply not an option.

Entry Requirements

Like all university degrees, a RICS-accredited undergraduate degree has specific entry requirements dependent on the course and institution. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) website:

“Entry requirements for a surveying degree will depend on the course you choose, but typically you will need two or three A levels, or equivalents…”

The Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation has no strict entry requirements, you’ll learn the art of residential surveying from the ground up. All we recommend is that you have a good level of written and spoken English, plus maths and IT skills equivalent to GCSE Level C.

The Learning

If undertaking an RICS-accredited undergraduate or postgraduate qualification at university, you will be taught broadly about surveying in all its guises before being given the opportunity to specialise in a particular area such as the residential sector. If you’re not sure what kind of surveying interests you, the university route offers a useful overview. If, however, you are confident that you would like to become a residential surveyor (as opposed to a quantity surveyor or land surveyor, for example) it could be argued that university is a protracted route into the profession.

With the Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation, you’ll gain a Level 6 degree-equivalent qualification focused specifically on the residential sector. Our expert trainers teach you everything you need to know about building pathology, residential construction, surveying skills and property valuation, so you emerge with an industry-recognised qualification and can start practising immediately. Unlike the more theory-based degree route, the diploma is a vocational qualification and, as such, includes a more blended learning approach with practical training days to help you put your skills and knowledge into action.

The Time Commitment

Due to the more broad education provided at university, a degree will typically take 3 – 5 years to complete, dependent on whether or not you already hold a surveying-related qualification and how you intend to study e.g. full time or part time.

In contrast, the Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation can be completed part time in just 24 months, owing to its specific focus on residential property.


Entry requirements and the time to qualify alone make the university route inaccessible to many – particularly those looking to join the profession later in life. With the pressures of existing work and family commitments, for some the university route simply isn’t feasible.

The Sava diploma is open to learners from all walks of life, but was specifically designed with career changers in mind. Our blended learning approach means learners experience a mix of virtual classroom training, online learning and face-to-face sessions (including practical property visits), minimising the need for unnecessary travel. Delivered part time, the qualification can be undertaken alongside existing work commitments.

Professional Status

Both a degree and the diploma lead to membership with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; the only distinction is the level of membership you can acquire, however this does not dictate what you can or cannot do as a surveyor. On completion of the diploma, Sava graduates can gain direct entry into RICS at ‘Associate member’ level, and we will support you with your application when the time comes. Whilst not Chartered, surveyors with the AssocRICS designation after their name can undertake the same RICS surveys as those with the MRICS designation (Chartered ‘Member’ of RICS). The designation is not a signifier of competence (find out more about RICS designations).

With an RICS-accredited degree, graduates must gain a minimum of 1 year of relevant experience before joining RICS as an ‘Associate member’ (AssocRICS). If desired, they can then complete their Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) to become MRICS.

The Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation provides a rewarding and accessible route into the surveying industry. With a focus on residential property and a delivery method catered to busy professionals and those with other commitments to consider, the qualification opens a door into residential surveying and valuation that would otherwise have remained closed.

In just 24 months, you can begin practising as a residential surveyor – whether through a firm or independently – and begin a whole new and exciting career in property.

Contact a Sava course advisor for more information on the career, the qualification and how to enrol. Get in touch on 01908 442158 or email