Monday, 15 June 2015

Real Estate Investment Finance: the REIF module

The Department of Real Estate and Construction (REC) recently launched a new online programme in Real Estate Investment Finance. The programme is available at MSc or Postgraduate Diploma level and also at Certificate level for those who want to take the modules for continuing professional development or training purposes.

Now that the second module of the REIF programme is in full swing, I thought it might be interesting to interview some of the module leaders. Along the way I discovered a wealth of experience and skills. I asked each of them four questions:

  • What did you study at university? 
  • How did you find your way into Real Estate?
  • How does your module contribute to the overall REIF programme?
  • What kind of teaching methods will you be using?

The first module leader to be interviewed is Richard Grover, who leads the module on Real Estate Investment Finance and was conducting an introductory webinar when I took this photo:

Richard Grover and Ye Xu from the REIF Team conducting a webinar for the REIF module

What did you study at university or college?
I went to the University of Kent at Canterbury before there had been any graduates. It was a new university. You will gather by now that I am part of the post-war bulge. Everything had to be built or enlarged to accommodate us. I took a social science degree, eventually specialising in economic history.

How did you find your way into Real Estate?
By accident. I have always been interested in property. I took economic history because it allowed you to study real urban areas and property rights whereas economics was mainly concerned with mathematical models that bore little relationship to the real world. My grandfather was one of the first people to take advantage of the 1967 Leasehold Enfranchisement Act to buy the freehold of his leasehold house. I was fascinated by his explanation of the process - very much a case of a teenager thinking that at 14 his grandfather knew nothing but being surprised at 17 to find how much the old man had learned during the previous three years (borrowed from Mark Twain!). I got a job teaching economics on a real estate management course at Portsmouth - and then I was hooked.

How does your module contribute to the overall REIF programme?
It is difficult these days to get away from finance in real estate. Even organisations that used to pay little attention to the value of their property, like charities and government departments, now need to be aware of the costs of the real estate they use. They have become more like businesses in their approach to management. The teaching of real estate in many business schools has meant that the ideas from finance have become embedded in our understanding of real estate, making understanding of them essential if one is to communicate with one's fellow professionals.

What kind of teaching methods will you be using?
Like many teachers I am instinctively an empiricist. I am not wedded to a particular philosophy of education but willing to try any teaching method to see if it works. Coming back to distance learning after a long gap, I am struck by how much the technology has changed and what it is now possible to do. To give a flavour of how things have changed, when I first started in distance learning, we had computer-marked assignments, which were then regarded as being revolutionary. Students had to fill out a card by hand (pencils only as the computer could not read ink!). The cards had to be posted to the university for the computer to read and the printed feedback posted back to the students. Although the technology has changed almost beyond belief, I don't think the fundamentals of distance learning have. Students need clear texts that they can work through, regular tests so that they are able to check their progress, and a tutor that they can get hold of when everything is going wrong or they cannot understand the material or make the systems work. Technology has changed how we present and deliver material and the most effective means of communication but the fundamentals of education have not changed. Distance learning is about ensuring that motivated students have good and clear study material they can work through and that they do not feel isolated in their struggles to learn and to balance the commitments of work, study and families.

Thanks Richard. Watch out for some more interviews on the blog soon. If you want to find out more about the REIF programme, take a look here:

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