The future is Higher Education in the Built Environment

Posted on: 11 February, 2016

As UCEM officially launches, it looks forward to 2016 and beyond

Well, what a fantastic evening for the Built Environment, Higher Education and UCEM. On Thursday 4 February, we officially celebrated becoming University College of Estate Management – and looked forward to not only what 2016 holds for the university college but for our Built Environment industry and Higher Education sector as well.

We were delighted to welcome so many of our staff, students, alumni, fellows, partners, other leading Built Environment and Higher Education figures, and a whole host of esteemed guests. We were especially honoured to be hosts to Professor Roger King, co-chair of the Higher Education Commission, and Dr Louise Brooke-Smith, RICS Fellow and past RICS Global President – our guest speakers.

We kicked off the celebrations with champagne and live jazz on the 29th floor of the Millbank Tower, overlooking one of the best views of the Thames. As the tallest building in Westminster it has spectacular vistas and boasts a 360-degree panorama of London’s skyline; including iconic landmarks such as the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Battersea Power Station.

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Our Principal, Ashley Wheaton, kept up the momentum of the occasion with an inspiring and entertaining welcome address to the room. He began by looking back at the university college’s illustrious 97 year history, commenting, “UCEM’s core purpose today still accurately reflects the ambitions set out by our first principal and founder, and I’ve no doubt of the crucially important role that UCEM continues to play by ensuring that we provide truly accessible, relevant and cost-effective education…”

Commenting on the award of university college title Ashley remarked, “We’re only the 7th independent provider in the UK to achieve this status, and we are now in an extremely select group of independent UK Higher Education institutions...” He then reiterated UCEM’s commitment to enabling students to enhance their careers, and by doing so, contributing to a better Built Environment.


louise speechLouise started her speech by congratulating UCEM on reaching a real milestone with university college title. She mentioned that this award and the work out in Hong Kong are real steps forward, and important ones for the property and construction sector – saying “I know first-hand how important it is for any organisation to grow in terms of reputation and respect on the global stage. And that’s exactly what UCEM is now doing.”

She then gave us a brief history of her background in the Built Environment, and her specialism in Planning Development. This set the scene for Louise to discuss the future of business, and address today’s biggest challenges and opportunities for not just the Built Environment but the entire world.

She covered a variety of topics such as: embracing technology and data, creating affordable and sustainable cities, winning the war for talent, innovative infrastructure, and developing realistic socio-economic policies. But her overall message was ‘making sure we’re prepared for the future’. In regards to the future of the Built Environment she commented, “Few in the industry can fail to accept that if we don’t change and keep ahead of the curve, then we fail to provide the best service. And if we don’t keep up with those changes, then we will get left behind. And this is equally true, and probably more important for the world of academia…the need to teach, train and update the knowledge of property professionals is vitally important.”

roger speechRoger picked up from Louise on the subject of the importance of quality education. He held UCEM up as a prime example, remarking that it reflects so many of the key aspirations of current UK government policy – and commented, “Firstly, it’s a specialist provider with close ties to the professions and the economy. Secondly, it’s a critical provider of upgraded, business relevant skills. Thirdly, it’s got long and excellent experience in applied technology…I’m sure that it will proceed at a pace, and develop as a sector leader for English Higher Education.”

He also talked about his long and varied background in Higher Education and his role in the Higher Education Commission, looking at regulation in the sector. He said part of the recommendations were to create a more level playing field for new and old providers, to reflect the diversity of the system but also their commonality in terms of opportunity and the upholding of standards.

Roger went on to cover the recent Green Paper – including the Teaching Excellence Framework – and the latest Higher Education Commission report, covering ‘learning analytics’, and the digital online revolution in Higher Education.

He finished by saying UCEM is extremely well placed to help lead the sector in these areas, adding, “As a university college it’s committed to both quality in its processes and its outcomes for students, and also to providing cost-effective value-for-money provision, both of which are important…at UCEM, students really are at the heart of your system.”

Ashley summarised the speeches by saying, “I don’t think there can be any doubt that this is an extremely exciting time for both the Higher Education sector and also for the Built Environment industry.” And concluded by reminding the guests that, “My commitment to you is that UCEM will continue to make big plans, and now as a university college we strive to fulfil our core purpose: continuing to be a part of the future success of both academia and industry…”

And after thanking everyone for joining the university college on such a joyous occasion, the only thing left for our guests to do was enjoy the refreshments, atmosphere and, of course, the views.

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