Principal Thoughts – April

Posted on: 11 May, 2016

Welcome to the latest edition of our ‘Principal Thoughts’ blog series. Each month, UCEM Principal Ashley Wheaton shares the latest updates from University College of Estate Management, and discusses industry news and highlights looking back over the previous month.

Education of the future

A big focus for the Higher Education sector in April was the shape of education in the future, including the relevance of online learning. Times Higher Education recently published an article in which Richard Garrett, Director of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, comments: “Open and distance learning universities (ODL) must determine their competitive advantage…” – “…the onus is on them to clarify their relevance.” Richard also states that ODL institutions can no longer ”…parrot that their value lies in convenience and flexibility”.

Whilst ODL institutions may emphasise these factors as key features of their offering, it is for this reason that these institutions are an important part of the future of Higher Education. In response to this article I have written an open letter, which you can read on our blog page.

The relevance of online learning to the future of Higher Education also came under the spotlight last month in our blog post: ‘Five reasons why online learning is the future’. Here we’ve laid down the top five benefits to studying online that will become increasingly important in the future.

Industry Events and conversations

As a leading provider of supported online learning in the Built Environment it is vital for us to keep at the forefront of industry developments, and this month we’ve attended a number of key events across Europe, and been involved in some exciting discussion.

The world of Retail Asset Management

April saw a large focus on retail, with industry events such as World Retail Congress, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) European Conference and RegioPlan Consulting’s Shopping Center Symposium being held.

IMG_0570Steve Priddis, our Retail Asset Management Programme Leader, attended this year’s ICSC European Conference from 18 – 20 April, along with Martin Cawley, UCEM Business Development Manager. The focus of the three-day event was ‘authenticity’. Delegates were challenged to reflect on the retail experience for consumers, and how to provide them with what they need in the most authentic manner.

Steve and Martin also managed to enjoy the sunshine whilst staying connected with the industry, as the conference was hosted in Milan! For more of an insight into the key discussions and take-aways from the conference you can read Steve’s guest blog post which introduces our new Retail Asset Management Programme – the first comprehensive online programme of its kind available globally. The programme focuses on specific areas of management relating to retail property assets and offers progression to BSc and Master’s degrees. I’m very excited to be able to add this to our UCEM offering, ensuring that our students benefit from qualifications of the highest quality.

Residential and Heritage Discussions

In addition to this, I have been fortunate over the past few weeks to represent UCEM at two meetings looking at ways to further improve both our new and existing built environment.. One of these was a workshop hosted by the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, which looked at how we can raise awareness of the need for new residential development to have a wider focus on the overall community rather than just building homes.

I was also invited to attend a roundtable event with the Rt Hon. David Evennett MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage. Chaired by Ros Kerslake, CEO of the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, the discussion looked at ways of overcoming the investment hurdles for UK heritage projects through improved use of social capital.

Growth across the globe

After opening our new Asia-Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong, I have also been privileged to join increasing numbers of industry conversations hongkong620pxon the parallels between the Built Environment industry here in the UK, and its neighbouring sectors around the world.

A big discussion topic recently is the skills gap, and I’m pleased to have contributed an article to Construction Manager on this topic, which you can read here. I’m proud for UCEM to have a voice in these discussions, and it looks like an exciting time is ahead for both Higher Education and the Built Environment.

Stay in touch with UCEM by connecting with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and make sure to stay tuned to our blog page for the next edition of Principal Thoughts.