David Andrews graduated in the 1970s, when rent was £4 per week.
|Degree Course||BSc (hons) Agricultural Economics|
|Year of Graduation||1973|
Your time at the University
Edinburgh was not my first choice, but if I’d known anything it would have been. Those first four years of release from “jail” (home, in St Albans, Hertfordshire) remain etched in my memory - sharper than any other experience.
The smell of hops (Scottish and Newcastle brewery), the mix of town and gown, the sheer grittiness of the environment, the chill factor in winter, the huge numbers of people (much bigger today though), the freedom, and yes, the intellectual stimulus of first rate researchers/lecturers made a heady mix.
Acting in the Pirates of Penzance was pretty memorable as was living in Milnes Court, yachting on the Forth and at the Firbush centre. I met a huge range of people across the arts, social science and agriculture and I still use some of the analytical techniques I first learned then, unable to throw out my textbooks and even my lecture notes to this day.
The most bizarre episode was in my first term in “digs” (a bed and breakfast on Newington Rd) when the landlord insisted on removing the bath tap handles (normally attached to the shafts with a screw) and requiring us to book a bath a few days ahead. Well I suppose it was only £4 a week for a shared room although we had to feed the meter for the comfort of the 2 bar electric heater. Luxury!
My only summer job was working on a farm in Norway one summer. That was interesting - I thought Edinburgh was way “up north” (it did sometimes take 8 hours to reach by train) until I heard Norwegians talking about their relatives in Trondheim. After graduating I studied for a Masters further north in Aberdeen and met my wife there, working for 2 or three years in the animal feed business, trying to persuade farmers that my brand was better than other, cheaper ones, in terms of milk yields and pigmeat.
This summer I organised a reunion of my fellow economists and historians and we really enjoyed meeting up again, doing many things in a short space of time to remind us of our time in Edinburgh, such as eating at Henderson’s and drinking at the Men’s (sorry, Teviot Place) Union resolving to repeat the experience before long, despite the marathon effort involved in its organisation.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
In 1978 I went to Papua New Guinea (there was double digit inflation in GB and I had always wanted to work in development), where I helped to increase cash crop productivity by advising on the use of better methods and by trying to negotiate higher export prices.
This lasted for 2 years before I took a job in Australia as an Economist for the Wheat Board (mainly trying to forecast US grain production and exports which fluctuated wildly) followed by several years in the Victorian (the southern state, not the 19th century) railways working on operational, marketing and planning departments.
This summer I organised a reunion of my fellow economists and historians and we really enjoyed meeting up again, doing many things in a short space of time to remind us of our time in Edinburgh.
For family reasons, but not before having 2 children, we eventually returned to England in 1988. Since then I have worked in the private and public sectors as a transport economist (in South Yorkshire) providing advice on project feasibility, undertaking cost benefit analysis to support business cases for funding schemes aimed at capacity increases, environmental and health benefit and improvements to our city and town centres.
So my life has changed from being highly rural to urban. Just like mankind’s as a whole I suppose!
Unless you’ve got a prodigious memory, don’t try to remember everything parrot fashion but develop your logical thinking skills and practice using them on your courses so that you have the tools to deal with problems as they come along and ask questions all the time.