UCEM Property Awards 2020 – Our Academic Excellence nominees: Rob Sumner

Posted on: 2 October, 2020

We will be hosting the 33rd UCEM Property Awards on Thursday, 15 October. Due to COVID-19, we will not be able to hold this in person but we will be sharing videos and announcements throughout the day on our social media channels to celebrate the achievements of our nominees and winners.


The event will see a sixth person receive our Academic Excellence Award since it was added to the Property Awards in 2015.


The Academic Excellence Award recognises the academic excellence and quality of a student’s research/dissertation submission.


In the lead-up to 15 October, we will be profiling each of the nominees for this Award. We have looked at Philip Goldstone’s, Laura Millican’s and Jasmine Walsh’s nominated dissertations, and next, we feature Rob Sumner and his dissertation entitled ‘Why does the UK Government intend to make the retirement living sector exempt from the proposed ground rent reforms?’.


Rob Sumner

Rob joined JLL in 2016 as an intern before being accepted onto the graduate scheme. In this role, he was exposed to several business lines where he developed his knowledge and understanding of commercial real estate and gained a particular interest in the healthcare property landscape.

From initially working within the advisory team, where he undertook valuations for healthcare related assets including care homes and later living developments, he decided to transfer his skillset to the transactional side of the business where investor appetite for healthcare property has grown in response to the infrastructural pressures associated with an ageing population.

Whilst in his current role, Rob graduated in 2019 with a Distinction from UCEM’s MSc Real Estate programme before completing his APC earlier this year to become a Chartered Surveyor.

Due to his specialism and the topical nature of the issue, Rob undertook a dissertation titled ‘Why does the UK Government intend to make the retirement living sector exempt from the proposed ground rent reforms?’, which explored the role of ground rents in retirement schemes, and the possible implications for the sector and wider socio-economic landscape if these were restricted in line with the proposed reforms.

By undertaking case study research and engaging with key stakeholders in the retirement living sector, Rob produced a well-articulated piece of research with substantiated conclusions and clear recommendations on an issue which has been hotly debated in Parliament.

“The nomination was a complete surprise,” Rob revealed. “I’d submitted my dissertation back in June 2019 so hadn’t thought much of it since. I actually thought the email was just a generic send-out from UCEM before I read the attached nomination letter. I feel extremely proud to have been nominated for such a prestigious award and acknowledge the importance of the panel’s decision that my research should be put forward.”

How did he find studying with us? “A new experience,” he reflected. “I’d never been taught online before so that was a bit of a learning curve. The Master’s was completed whilst working full-time which meant evenings and weekends were often dedicated towards the programme, however, I feel that UCEM’s tutors and support staff did as much as they could to support me through each of the modules up until the very end.”

What are his memories of writing the dissertation? “Tight timescales!” Rob answered. “[For others beginning their dissertation] I’d suggest breaking down the dissertation into manageable sections and setting a timetable for when they need to be completed by. From submission of the proposal in January, you only have five months until you submit the final project, whilst also completing your modules and working full-time. Time flies.”

And what’s next for Rob? “I will continue developing my career as a surveyor in JLL’s Healthcare Capital Markets Team. Maybe [I’ll undertake] a CFA [Chartered Financial Analyst qualification] in a year or so. I also need to plan a wedding…”

Thanks for sharing your story, Rob, and all the best for the Awards, your continued career progression and your wedding!

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