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News & opinion

6 JUN 2018

Adapting built environment education to our changing world

As we prepare for the RICS Awards in Australia, we talk to Professor Ron Wakefield, the Dean of RMIT University School of Property, Construction and Project Management – our headline sponsor.

Professor Wakefield discusses how built environment education is adapting to our changing world.

The changing nature of education

RICS celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, and RMIT isn’t too far off that landmark with a 131-year heritage.

RMIT was established in 1887 as The Working Men’s College, with the fundamental principle that working people should get an education – an opportunity not previously afforded to them.

We have kept the ideal of educating workers for the future, and giving people the opportunity to benefit from education, but RMIT has also become a much more universal provider that is open to students of all genders and nationalities.

Our program offerings are now much more comprehensive, and span the full range from design and creative disciplines to business and professions.

New skills

The world is changing rapidly – including urbanisation, resource scarcity, and accelerating technological innovation. This means that our students need new skills to thrive in the industry.

I sum up this new skill set as sustainability – environmental, economic and social.

Students must be adept at using technology in the built environment. Buildings and the building process will become more dependent on information. There will be designs and technologies embedded in the built environment that will help us use resources more efficiently and improve asset management and maintenance.

In the School of Property, Construction and Project Management, we’re building new tools and technologies, that will be commonplace in the future, into our programs now.

Value of professional qualifications

Professional qualifications give you portability, both nationally and internationally, and recognition of your skill and knowledge base. They also provide access to ongoing professional development.

Alongside links with other professional networks, these connections will become increasingly important as we move into a more difficult work environment.

Qualifications are opportunities to be recognised in a workforce that is increasingly casual.

Increasingly international

To provide a truly international education, as well as international experiences, RMIT has two international campuses in Vietnam, as well as partner programs around the world.

Our students get the opportunity to learn skills around internationalisation, cultural awareness and working in multicultural groups, and to gain understanding of how their professional work impacts different countries and places.

The challenged role of the ‘expert’

As the role of the ‘expert’ is increasingly questioned, it’s important we maintain our accreditation and credibility within industry and government. We must ensure we equip our students with an understanding of professional ethics and the importance of putting the community first.

We have a responsibility to keep our education and research at the cutting edge, and to prepare our students for future practice and developments.

We must equip our students with skills to judge the quality of information and distinguish real expertise from alternative facts.