Beyond the mortar board

by Rachel Sproston

News every month from the world of academia

Ann Heywood, principal
The College of Estate Management, UK
Photo: Johnson Poon

The construction boom in Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China and Dubai has led to a shortage of quantity surveyors and building surveyors. Holding the master key to Hong Kong's prosperity, the education sector is quick to respond.

Over the years, HKCyberU (the e-learning arm of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University) has formed partnerships with an array of reputable overseas education institutions, helping to facilitate world-class learning and training for local and international students. The College of Estate Management (CEM) in the UK is one such partner.

Founded in 1919, the CEM currently enjoys international recognition at the forefront of specialist land and construction management programmes. Its partnership with HKCyberU continues to prosper as greater numbers of Hong Kong students opt to join learners from over 80 different countries and study with CEM.

Ann Heywood, principal, The College of Estate Management, UK notes the college is a popular choice for a few good reasons. "CEM is a leading distance learning provider for the property and construction professions. The market is indeed a niche one and the CEM is devoted solely to e-learning. However, in the UK and Hong Kong, due to the large numbers of students enrolled, face-to-face teaching takes place at least twice a year," Dr Heywood says.

"Most of our students are earning while they are learning. The average age is 34 so more often than not, enrolled learners can test out their knowledge in the workplace," she adds. Learning is subsequently quicker and also more thorough when such practicality is involved.

Dr Heywood also stresses that the CEM analyses feedback from major employers in Hong Kong as the local property and construction industry is contained yet incredibly buoyant. As a result and since the CEM has no restrictions on student numbers, the college is proactively increasing its intake of both such professionals to meet local skill shortages.

The programmes on offer at CEM include the entry-level diploma in surveying practice, a technical qualification accredited by both the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS). Alternatively, available at the upper end of the academic spectrum, is the MBA in construction. "We currently have 4,000 students and it is not unusual to see alumni returning to begin a new qualification with us at a higher level," Dr Heywood remarks.

"At present the breakdown of students is 70 per cent UK, 30 per cent international. We want to reverse that and leverage on our partnership with HKCyberU in doing so," she adds. Course material will also become more international to cater for a more global student body.

Concerning corporate social responsibility, as chair of the RICS Presidential Commission on Sustainability, Dr Heywood is also acutely aware of the need for sustainable development across the entire spectrum of the international property and construction industry from architects through to builders. "CEM's goal is an industry-wide ripple effect, whereby environmental sustainability is respected at every level," she concludes.

Taken from Career Times 22 February 2008
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