Integrating PropTech into real estate courses

Posted on: 30 March, 2022

Each year, we award up to £15,000 to go towards a research project (or projects) with the potential to provide a sector-changing insight through the Harold Samuel Research Prize. This prize went to Dr Olayiwola Oladiran – a lecturer in real estate at The University of Sheffield – and Anupam Nanda – a professor of urban economics & real estate at The University of Manchester – in 2020 for their proposal on developing an integration framework for PropTech education so that PropTech can be integrated into real estate courses at higher education level.

As per the terms of the award, Olayiwola and Anupam completed their research 12 months later and, here, they share the main outcomes of their research, as well as lessons learned and hopes for its use in the future…

Dr Olayiwola Oladiran Professor Anupam Nanda

(L-R) Dr Olayiwola Oladiran and Anupam Nanda

Integrating PropTech in real estate courses

Following the review of literature, data analysis and extensive consultation, we developed the PropTech Education Integration Framework (PEIF). The framework proposed the integration of PropTech and innovation in the real estate higher education curriculum using the dispersal approach (introducing PropTech in existing real estate courses), concentrated approach (introducing a new PropTech module), and the hybrid approach (a blend of the dispersal and concentrated approaches).

Through the PEIF report, we provided evidence-based insight on the importance of PropTech and innovation in real estate education and provided practical recommendations and suggestions on how the PEIF can be implemented effectively and efficiently. Real estate educators and course leaders can therefore use the PEIF report to increase the scope of PropTech and innovation in their curricula.

Knowledge contributions

Through our research, we have been able to contribute to two key areas. The first relates to PropTech as an emerging real estate specialisation. Our findings showed that data and analytics are important elements of PropTech; thus, further advancements to data processing and analytics have the potential to further expand the scope of PropTech.

Approximately 90% of the respondents to our survey opined that real estate practitioners without basic skills and appreciation for data and analytics are likely to struggle in professional practice in the next decade. Additionally, our study also showed that creativity, entrepreneurship and other soft skills are essential for PropTech and other real estate innovations.

The second key area of contribution to knowledge relates to real estate education and pedagogy. Our study shows that, with PropTech becoming more relevant over the coming years, integrating PropTech in the real estate higher education curriculum will continue to remain relevant and essential; thus, real estate students need to develop both hard and soft skills required for future real estate operations and practice.

In our survey, 99% of the respondents agreed that soft skills should accompany the integration of PropTech and innovation in the real estate higher education curriculum.

‘A very positive and rewarding experience’

The research process was interesting. We consulted and interacted with various PropTech industry leaders, real estate professionals, students, and academics. We also worked closely with the UK PropTech Association (UKPA), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Council of the Heads of the Built Environment (CHOBE).

In addition, we also presented the initial drafts of the PEIF at the European Real Estate (ERES) and the African Real Estate Society (AfRES) conferences in 2021 where we received some feedback to further improve the framework. In all, it was a very positive and rewarding experience.

Any regrets?

We had one year to complete the project and therefore had to scale various areas of the research appropriately. It would have been helpful to have a larger sample size through a wider pool of interviewees and survey respondents. Although the sample was diverse enough to draw useful insights, a larger and more international coverage would have been helpful.

Next steps

There are several impact areas. First, we are utilising the framework to strengthen the real estate pedagogy in our individual institutions. The report has also been published on the UCEM Harold Samuel Research Prize webpage and promoted on several social media platforms.

We are positive that real estate academics will find the report useful and we hope that the insight from our research can help to enrich real estate programmes around the world and, ultimately, expand the scope of real estate innovation and digitisation.

Head to the ‘latest publications’ webpage to access Olayiwola and Anupam’s research publication.