My life in the Built Environment: Guest blog by Karl Bunting, UCEM Foundation Year Programme Leader

Posted on: 16 August, 2019

Photo of Karl Bunting, UCEM Foundation Year Programme Leader

Starting out

I got into the Built Environment as an apprentice electrician. I became a Facilities Manager for Marks & Spencer having worked in various electrical based trades.


I was able to travel extensively working in Australasia. A lot of disciplines in the Built Environment can afford you this opportunity and I grabbed the chance to travel and work in different countries and experience their cultures.

Return to the UK

I came back to the UK and took on a maintenance inspector role at Atkins where I trained to become a surveyor, gaining a BSc in Building Surveying with First Class Honours from Anglia Ruskin University.

Move into academia

I was approached by Colchester Institute to do some teaching in 2005 where I took on a full-time role while completing a postgraduate qualification in Education at the University of Essex. After completing this qualification in 2007, I worked part time in teaching and as a Consultant/Surveyor for Gateway Partnership surveying practice. The role enabled me to do project management and programme management with a team of project managers offering consultancy work and expert advice. We subcontracted work to a lot of large firms.

The work I was doing for Gateway Partnership overlapped with the role at Colchester Institute. I found that I really enjoyed teaching and became a Senior Lecturer at the University of Greenwich where I stayed for five years before joining UCEM as a Foundation Programme Leader in 2014.

Time at UCEM

Working for UCEM is always interesting. We have led the way in providing online education and this form of study is now becoming far more commonplace.

I think online learning enables people to be flexible with their time in a non-pressurised environment. UCEM is innovative in its approach to teaching in this way. We dedicate ourselves to enable people to succeed.

Foundation Year

The Foundation Year programmes I lead on are to get people back, or for the first time, into higher education. I am passionate about that. It could be for people who have spent a long time away from education or come into the sector via different routes and want to become a Built Environment professional.

Studying a Foundation Year sets you up to succeed in your subsequent degree qualifications. Often you can be more successful in your degree taking this route. It’s a small cohort which enables us to provide greater support through your studies.

The opportunity is there for students to access our BSc programmes which lead to professional recognition. The Foundation Year is a doorway for students to go onto our degree programmes or even start an apprenticeship. It’s a selling point to employers to be studying on such a programme. Employers often want people who are already studying so it’s an opportunity to gain employment in the relevant area of study.

Benefits of studying at UCEM

UCEM has a long history in providing distance learning and, now, online education. Our background speaks for itself. The sector recognises our accredited programmes which allow you to study in your own time to progress or access your career in the Built Environment.

‘Change the environment for better’

What I love about working in the Built Environment is the fact that you have the opportunity to affect the environment you live in. You can change the environment for better and be involved in some really interesting projects. One aspect of changing the environment around you for the better is creating sustainable developments, whether that’s through affordable housing, for example, or innovative buildings. The Foundation Year will give you a good grounding in sustainability which is so important for the continued health of the Built Environment and, of course, the planet!

Karl has almost 15 years’ experience of teaching, having taken on many roles within the Built Environment spanning a 30-year career. Karl is a member of the CIOB and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Visit our Undergraduate webpage to find out more about his Foundation Year programmes.