ULI creates learning experiences that develop professional expertise and personal leadership skills in support of the individual, the community, and the real estate industry. In FY 2016, the UrbanPlan educational program for high school and university students was successfully launched in the United Kingdom, marking the first time the program was delivered outside the United States. More than 500 secondary students in 24 state schools across the U.K. participated in UrbanPlan’s interactive workshops, in which ULI volunteers share practical, hands-on lessons on the market and nonmarket forces behind urban regeneration.
Exporting UrbanPlan to the United Kingdom meant tailoring the curriculum to the British educational system and modifying the UrbanPlan case study to reflect unique planning and development challenges of British towns and cities. Although the specifics may be different, the goal of UrbanPlan U.K. is the same as that for the UrbanPlan program that originated in the San Francisco Bay area in 2002: to make young people aware of the push-and-pull nature of how cities are built.
“The questions we’re asking are universal,” says ULI U.K. Chairman Simon Clark, partner at Linklaters. “These children already live and operate in cities, and observe what is going on around them. They’re starting to understand how cities have evolved in the past and how they will continue to evolve in the future in response to a whole set of pressures—physical, social, political, and economic.”
In the U.K. model, introducing students from underrepresented backgrounds to careers within the real estate industry is another explicit goal. How the built environment can actually create wealth, opportunity, and social mobility is a key message of UrbanPlan U.K., especially for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, volunteer John McLarty says.
“There is a lot of untapped talent and potential in our inner cities, and UrbanPlan can begin to unlock some of that,” says McLarty, head of planning at Strutt & Parker. “Our goal is to inspire a new generation of property professionals. Many of the property professions—planning, surveying, and real estate development—tend to get overlooked in schools. So this is an exciting opportunity to connect students with industries and careers they may not know much about.” A survey of participants in UrbanPlan U.K. showed a 15 percent increase in the number of students who expressed interest in the real estate industry after taking part in the program.
At the conclusion of the 2015–2016 academic year, UrbanPlan students and volunteers celebrated at London’s City Hall, listened to speakers from the property industry, and attended a career networking fair afterward. After a successful first year, the program is set to be scaled up significantly, with a goal of reaching 40 new schools across the United Kingdom during the next academic year.
“These young adults are the future in terms of development and how our communities and neighborhoods are going to be mapped out,” says volunteer and ULI Young Leader Lucy Barrett, a sustainability project assistant at Grosvenor. “They are conscious about their surroundings, but not necessarily aware of how they can be a positive influence. That’s why UrbanPlan has been really successful—in highlighting future possibilities.”
UrbanPlan U.K. has received funding from the ULI Foundation, the ULI Charitable Trust, Grosvenor, Land Securities, and several other sponsors. Learn more about UrbanPlan and the work of ULI United Kingdom and other European National Councils.