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Learn from the professionals: REALM

Posted 16 July 2014

Susan Ragbourne

Aside from preparing students for a career in land agency, the REALM course at Harper Adams University also boasts some of the most experienced academic staff, including Senior Lecturer in Rural Land Management, Susan Ragbourne.

Susan graduated from Harper Adams in 1993 as part of the first cohort of Rural Enterprise and Land Management (REALM) students, and was also the first to graduate with first class honours. She came to Harper Adams as a mature student with an equine background - qualified as a British Horse Society Assistant Instructor, had taught riding and also worked producing young hunters for the show ring and yearlings for the Newmarket Sales.

It was a six-month Young Farmers exchange to the USA staying on farms in North Dakota and Massachusetts that sparked her interest in land management and led to her career change.

During her placement year, Susan worked for Birmingham chartered surveyors, James & Lister Lea, managing a variety of rural estates in the West Midlands. On graduation, she was employed by Harper Adams to work on a variety of consultancy projects, including an environmental impact assessment for a wind farm on the Welsh-Shropshire border and a farming and land management appraisal for the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust following their acquisition of Clattinger Farm with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Involvement with these consultancy projects enabled Susan to complete the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) and acquire MRICS status in 1998. Very early on in her employment at Harper Adams Susan was asked to be involved with part-time teaching.

“I started off with a couple of hours a week teaching agriculture students about land use and planning and it grew from there, until a full-time lecturing post came up the following year and I decided to apply,” Susan said.

“Twenty years later I’m the Senior Tutor for the BSc Rural Property Management course!”

Susan currently lectures in taxation- specialising in local taxation and the agricultural exemption from business rates, and town and country planning, particularly focussing on permitted development rights and rural geography and economics.

Away from the university, Susan still has an interest in horses, keeping two to ride out with her daughter. She said: “It has been interesting to combine practical knowledge from my former career with my professional surveying knowledge, allowing me to develop sessions on rating and planning for the equine law seminars which have been running at Harper Adams for the last seven years.”

Susan has just become an Assessor for RICS Associate Assessment, which leads to AssocRICS membership. She added: “Becoming an assessor has given me a useful insight into the process and it helps me to provide guidance to our Rural Property Management students on what they need to do to prepare for assessment.”

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