William Donaghey, 20, is following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather by becoming a surveyor.

“I feel passionate about doing a surveying degree because my dad does it, and I look up to him very much, and also my pop,” he said.

But until this year, he could not have studied the course at any university in South Australia without first completing an undergraduate degree.

Universities in South Australia cancelled their planning and surveying degrees after experiencing a decline in student numbers signing up to the programs.

Planners and surveyors play an integral role in the housing pipeline by helping to ensure communities are well planned, and that land is suitable for properties to be built.

South Australian universities cancelled their planning and surveying degrees after a decline in enrolments.(ABC News: Sophie Holder)

National Planning Institute chief executive Matt Collins said a lack of study pathways was contributing to a shortage of planners across the country.

“Australia needs more planners because planners are going to be the ones who can help deliver more housing, more infrastructure and the sustainable future that we want to see,” Mr Collins said.

“The first building block we need is more undergraduate courses so that students can choose to become planners and study to take up that career path.”

As the nation faces a housing crisis, more planners and surveyors could help to support the construction of more homes.

“Planners are all about creating the long-term visions that tell us where the housing needs to be delivered, where the infrastructure needs to be developed, where the jobs should go,” he said.

“If we don’t have that work being done, we know that it’s going to disadvantage this country.”

Matt Collins says a lack of study paths was contributing to a national shortage of planners.(ABC News)

The Planning Institute of Australia said while there was a national shortage of planners, the situation was even worse in South Australia.

It recorded workforce growth of just 35 per cent from 2006 to 2021.

The surveying industry is facing a similar workforce gap across the country, and reports by its peak body show it needs 920 students each year over the next decade to keep up with demand.

‘It’s going to be all worth it’

Flinders University in South Australia introduced a surveying course in 2024, and will offer a planning course from 2025, in an effort to help meet that demand.

Deputy vice-chancellor Romy Lawson said the degrees had been created in collaboration with industry.

“I think there’s a national skills shortage and there’s a real vision for South Australia to grow and to build,” she said.

“I think what we’re going to be able to do with giving these courses is give those skills into the state, into the nation.”

SA’s Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Nick Champion, said he was confident the move would bring more young people into the industry.

Nick Champion says the reopening of courses will attract students.(ABC News: Sophie Holder)

“There’s never been a more exciting time to be a planner, to be a surveyor, to be an architect, these people will be building South Australia,” he said.

“We want to make sure that we really do encourage a lot of school leavers, a lot of mature aged students back into these professions so that they can go to work.”

Mr Donaghey said he saw his future in the industry. 

“I think it’s a great skill set to have, and it can lead a long way,” he said.

“[The degree] takes a long time, and I just know that it’s going to be all worth it in the long run.”