A major initiative being launched by the Reading Real Estate Foundation (RREF) in partnership with British Land and the Sutton Trust, could be the much needed catalyst to attract talented students from disadvantaged and non-traditional backgrounds into the real estate industry.

The ‘Pathways to Property’ programme has been made possible through the support of British Land, one of Europe’s largest Real Estate Investment Trusts which is funding the programme with over £200,000 over the next three years. It is joined by the Sutton Trust which has pledged £60,000 and promotes social mobility through education and has run a wide range of access projects across a range of industry sectors and universities.

The property industry is widely acknowledged as suffering from a lack of diversity and this is reflected in the applications to study real estate at university. The majority of students attending the top Real Estate courses in the UK generally have a private education and two thirds are thought to already have contacts including family connections in the Real Estate industry. Poor awareness and understanding of the industry and its potential career prospects means academically able students from non-traditional backgrounds are missing out on employment opportunities and the low numbers of these students seeking to study real estate at university is made worse by increased tuition fees.

The ‘Pathways to Property’ project is designed to offer students an insight into university life, studying real estate and learning about career opportunities through a Summer School held at the University of Reading. Successful students will then receive additional support such as mentoring, bursaries or scholarships and internships.

The project has been established with the support of the RREF Board of Trustees, Henley Business School and the School of Real Estate & Planning at the University of Reading. Some of the largest firms of advisors have also pledged financial and other on-going commitment to the initiative including BNP Paribas Real Estate, CBRE, C&W, DTZ, Gerald Eve, JLL, Knight Frank, Lambert Smith Hampton, Savills, Strutt & Parker, as well as property company Redevco.

Nicole Gillham, Executive Director, Reading Real Estate Foundation said, ‘We’re delighted British Land and the Sutton Trust have enabled this project to become a reality. This is a property sector issue and it is inspiring to know there are organisations prepared to make a real stand for change. Not only is the funding from British Land, the Sutton Trust and other big firms vital to deliver this exciting project but as the highest profile real estate alumni association in the UK RREF will also value employability support such as mentoring, work experience, and ultimately the employment of these more diverse graduates. It is the University of Reading’s aim to pioneer the initiative but we hope other companies and universities will follow suit to help strengthen the long-term sustainability of professional skills and expertise in the industry’.

Chris Grigg, Chief Executive, British Land said, ‘We know our industry is failing to attract a more representative pool of talent. We need to make change happen and do more to fully incorporate the UK’s diverse society through attractive recruitment programmes, employee training and development. The industry needs to work on this together but British Land is delighted to be pioneering such a project with one of the UK’s top real estate universities and The Sutton Trust whose support, expertise and  track record of delivering initiatives in this area has made it a respected voice in the social mobility debate.’

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman, The Sutton Trust said, ‘We are delighted to back this programme to open up the property sector to young people from non-privileged backgrounds.  Pathways to Property will build on what we have learnt through Pathways to Law, our university summer schools and other access initiatives.  We hope it will, like them, be scaled up to reach many more young people in the years ahead. The Sutton Trust is delighted to be working with Reading University and British Land to make such an important and comprehensive project a reality’


Nicole Gillham, Reading Real Estate Foundation 0118 378 4193

Pip Wood, British Land 020 7467 2838

Conor Ryan / Ellie DeCamp, The Sutton Trust  020 7802 1660

Notes to Editors

About British Land: British Land is one of Europe’s largest Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) with total assets, owned or managed, of £15.8 billion (British Land share £10.3 billion), as valued at 31 March 2012. Through our property and finance expertise we attract experienced partners to create properties and environments which are home to over 1,000 different organisations and visited by over 300 million people each year. Our property portfolio is focused on prime retail locations and Central London offices which attract high quality occupiers committed to long leases. Our occupancy rate of 98.1% and average lease length to first break of 11.3 years are among the highest of the major UK REITs.

Retail assets account for 61% of our portfolio with around 27 million sq ft of retail space across 89 retail parks, 97 superstores, 12 shopping centres and 10 department stores. The retail portfolio is modern, flexible and adaptable to a wide range of formats. Our active asset management delivers space which is attractive and meets the needs of both retailers and consumers. Over 80% of our retail parks have open A1 consent.

London offices, located in the City and West End, comprise 34% of the portfolio (rising to an estimated 40% on completion of current developments). Our 7 million sq ft of office space includes Broadgate, the premier City office campus (50% share) and Regent’s Place in the West End. We have committed £1.2 billion to create Central London’s largest committed office development programme delivering 2.3 million sq ft of high quality space by 2014, including a 700,000 sq ft building at 5 Broadgate, 610,000 sq ft at the Leadenhall Building and a 500,000 sq ft mixed office and residential scheme at Regent’s Place in the West End.

Managing our environmental, economic and social impacts is central to the way we do business and deliver value for our shareholders. We assess the issues that matter most to us and our stakeholders and, where appropriate, adjust our strategic focus to reflect this. For the coming year we are focused on managing our buildings efficiently, supporting communities, developing sustainable buildings and engaging our staff. For each of these priorities we are targeting our efforts and resources at initiatives where we can achieve the biggest impacts. Further details can be found on the British Land website at www.britishland.com.

About the Sutton Trust: The Sutton Trust was founded in 1997 by Sir Peter Lampl with the aim of promoting social mobility through education. It has funded a wide range of access projects in early years, school and university settings, with a focus on research, policy and innovative practical projects with a system-wide relevance.

The Trust exists to combat educational inequality and prevent the subsequent waste of talent. It is particularly concerned with breaking the link between educational opportunities and family background, and in realising a system in which young people are given the chance to prosper, regardless of their family background, the school they happen to attend or the area in which they live.

As disadvantage starts before young people are born and continues through to the workplace, the Trust’s interest covers parenting and early year’s projects; primary and secondary schooling; and access to university and the professions. At later ages the Trust has a particular focus on academically talented young people with the potential to study at leading, highly-selective universities.

Since 1998 the Trust and its partners have committed £40 million to educational access projects and research.

About the Reading Real Estate Foundation: The Reading Real Estate Foundation was founded in 2002 and is a unique and forward-thinking educational charity, established to support real estate and planning education at the University of Reading. It engages and nurtures students to help them achieve their full potential and become the best in the industry. Activities have evolved over the last 10 years and include:

• Forging links between the School of Real Estate & Planning, its alumni and the industry

• Providing assistance in the form of bursaries and grants to students in need

• Building a robust and vibrant network of real estate professionals

• Offering co-curricular activities to further learning and enhance the employability of our graduates

• Raising funds from alumni and the industry to support our initiatives

• Sharing expertise and best practice through organising events and networking opportunities

• Raising awareness, worldwide, of the School of Real Estate & Planning and helping to maintain its position as a centre of excellence

Thanks to the generous support of alumni, corporate donors and other individuals, RREF has earned a reputation as a leading-edge alumni association with a global reach, supporting education, forging links and building futures. It has over 9,000 alumni worldwide in 75 different countries.

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