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Director of Academic Development University College of Estate Management (UCEM)

UCEM – the leading provider of supported online education for the built environment – is seeking a talented and inspirational Director of Academic Development to provide strong leadership during a period of expansion across UCEM’s academic offer.

  • Location: Reading (2-6 days per month on site) / Hybrid
  • Salary: In the region of £90,000, dependent on experience (12-month fixed term contract)
  • Closing date: Rolling applications

Who we are

UCEM is the leading provider of supported online education for the built environment, with 4,000 students studying across a wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate, and degree apprenticeship programmes.

Having recently secured independent university status and indefinite taught degree award powers, UCEM’s long-term vision is to become the Centre of Excellence for Built Environment Education and offer a greater range of programmes that meet the needs of students and employers across the built environment sector.

As part of this vision, UCEM is in a period of expansion and the Director of Academic Development will play a key role over the next 12 months to inform and direct our academic strategy, leading change and embedding new academic activities across our established and emerging subject disciplines.

About the role

Please note that the appointment will be for a 12-month fixed-term contract.

Reporting to the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education), the Director of Academic Development will play a central role in the leadership of UCEM and lead on key aspects of the development of the institution as it aspires to become the Centre of Excellence for Built Environment Education. Through their leadership of the academic teams and the delivery of UCEM’s academic strategy, the post holder will play a key role in ensuring that our academic offer continues to offer best-in-class education that enables students to enhance their careers, increase professionalism and contribute to a sustainable built environment.

As a key member of the senior leadership team (SLT), the Director of Academic Development will lead UCEM’s academic department and drive the development and expansion of UCEM’s academic offer, ensuring continuous improvement and enhancement across all subject disciplines and levels of study.

As a member of the Academic Board, the postholder will chair the Learning, Teaching and Enhancement Committee, which leads the development and implementation of UCEM’s Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy.

Overseeing the day-to-day management of the academic teams and line managing the Deans and Associate Deans of School, the Director will provide robust and effective leadership and foster a culture of academic excellence, collaboration, and innovation. You will achieve this by integrating all areas of academic activity at UCEM to ensure staff are supported in established and emerging areas, fostering a positive and inclusive working environment aligned with UCEM’s values and core purpose.

As we seek to expand our academic provision in pursuit of our vision to be the Centre of Excellence for Built Environment Education, the Director will be engaged in identifying and pursuing opportunities for innovative and industry-responsive programme development. This will involve evaluating current academic roles and structures to ensure a sustainable model as UCEM’s academic offer expands across subject disciplines and levels of study. The post holder will need to cultivate strong partnerships with employers, professional bodies and other education providers.

The Director of Academic Development will oversee continuous improvement and enhancement of UCEM’s academic activities, ensuring that we are compliant with OfS and PSRB requirements and maintain a strong focus on UCEM’s institutional strategic metrics and external measures and frameworks, including TEF,

REF, and KEF. Collaborating with the academic and digital education teams, the Director will drive the development of pedagogical approaches that support an unrivalled student experience across multiple subject disciplines. You will be responsible for enhancement projects to ensure UCEM’s academic offer is sustainable and drives high levels of performance for the benefit of students and staff.

Some attendance at UCEM’s office in Reading will be required (2-6 days per month, depending on work commitments), although there is the option to work more regularly from the office.

Who we are looking for

This is a unique opportunity to shape the future of academic excellence in the built environment at UCEM and therefore we are seeking a visionary leader with a passion for education, research and developing talent within an academic community.

Candidates will need to demonstrate a strong record of academic leadership covering a broad range of experience, including learning and teaching, research, skills and employability, external engagement and programme development. We are seeking candidates with a personal record of academic distinction and achievement and who have a highly developed understanding of the current and emerging higher education landscape.

Whilst knowledge of the built environment would be useful it is not essential, and we are keen to encourage applicants who bring experience in developing and delivering strategic initiatives and innovations in learning and teaching across a broad range of subject disciplines in higher education.

Candidates must be able to demonstrate a strong track record of leadership and successful management of teams within a significant area of responsibility in a higher education provider.

You must also bring current knowledge and experience of the Office for Students and relevant academic frameworks such as TEF, REF and KEF. Previous experience of online learning would be advantageous, as would experience of working in partnership with professional bodies.

Candidates must demonstrate their ability to bring people together to work collaboratively by showing excellent communication skills and an ability to engage with a range of stakeholders. You should be driven, resilient and motivated to effect positive change and navigate challenges along the way.

Underpinning these experiences and skills, candidates must be able to articulate a commitment to the core values, institutional strategy and mission of UCEM, whilst championing and enabling equality, diversity and inclusion in every context.

Candidates must be willing and able to work from UCEM’s Reading office 2-6 days per month and ideally, we are seeking candidates who are available to begin in post as soon as possible.

Here at UCEM, we champion equality, diversity, and inclusion in our workforce. We celebrate diversity and the strengths it brings to our staff body, our student community and our Board of Trustees, recognising that people are key to our success. Our aim is to attract, develop and retain a diverse workforce, therefore we welcome and encourage applications from all backgrounds.


  • 26 days paid holiday (excluding bank holidays) and up to 5 paid closure days.
  • USS pension scheme
  • Employee Assistance Programme and access to Silvercloud (mental health support platform)
  • Cycle to Work and Electric Vehicle salary sacrifice schemes
  • Tax-free childcare
  • Employer-funded Health Cash Plan

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultant at Peridot Partners:

Dr Sophie Carney | sophie@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07399 528307


If you would like to know more about this role please contact Dr Sophie Carney

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About the University College of Estate Management

UCEM is the leading provider of supported online education for the built environment, with over 100 years of experience in providing the highest quality learning opportunities. Founded in 1919 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1922, UCEM became a registered charity in 1963 and is a registered higher education provider with the Office for Students.

At any one time, we have more than 4,000 students from more than 100 countries benefiting from our qualifications taught by tutors with extensive industry experience. We provide flexible and accessible postgraduate and undergraduate degree and apprenticeship programmes. Our suite of modular, flexible courses is designed to work for each and every individual at each and every stage of their career.

Our undergraduate offer includes programmes in Building Control, Real Estate Management, Quantity and Building Surveying, Construction Management and Architectural Design Technology.

Our postgraduate offer includes MSc programmes in Building Surveying, Real Estate, Construction Management, Quantity Surveying and Urban planning, as well as an MBA in Construction and Real Estate and MSc Innovation in Sustainable Built Environments.

We also offer 16 pathways to higher and degree apprenticeships via 8 programmes, which provide an alternative route to gaining a qualification. This includes studying towards the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) to become a Chartered Surveyor. UCEM’s apprenticeship provision is rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted and 98% of employers who work with UCEM would recommend the University to others.

The UCEM Online Academy offers a wide range of flexible, online CPD and training courses, developed by leading academics and practitioners for the real estate and construction sectors.

Our vision is to be the Centre of Excellence for Built Environment Education, maximising our impact and influence on both education and industry. This is in support of the institutional objectives set out within the UCEM Vision and Strategy.

Our focus will be on delivering student outcomes, widening participation, student satisfaction and reach, offering greater depth and breadth of education, and actively engaging and collaborating with education and industry partners.

We live by our values of passion, integrity, excellence and support. Equality is embedded in all that we do and we celebrate diversity and the strengths that it brings to our staff body, our student community and our board of trustees.

Learn more about the University College of Estate Management

Accessibility information

We understand that different members of the community have different access needs and have made some modifications to the way we do business to accommodate people from diverse communities and abilities. We offer the following amenities:

  • Step free access to the building, all key meeting rooms and bathrooms, and an accessible workstation
  • Interviews can be held in meeting rooms that support hearing loops
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats
  • A sign language interpreter can be accessed for interview
  • Working patterns and locations can be adjusted

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultant at Peridot Partners:

Dr Sophie Carney | sophie@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07399 528307

    To access a full job description and application details,
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    Thank you for your interest in this role. Please download the Job Description and Person Specification.

    To formally apply, please submit an up-to-date CV.

    Please send your CV to Sophie@peridotpartners.co.uk or to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “UCEM – Director of Academic Development” into the subject field.

    As a sector-leading executive search consultancy, we know the importance of creating recruitment processes which are fair, inclusive and free from bias. We are committed to promoting equality and diversity and developing a process that values differences.

    If you have a disability that meets the definition set out in the Equality Act 2010, and you can show that you meet the ‘essential’ criteria described in the person specification, please let us know.

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    Recruitment selection processes are based on evidence of competence stated in the person specification and in relation to our values.

    UCEM undertakes thorough pre-employment screening as part of its recruitment process. Given we have contracts with Government offices, we make sure our checks comply with the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS). Checks will include identity, right to work, basic disclosure criminal record check, and three years of employment history.

    Open process: This is an open recruitment process. We are moving to interview as soon as we receive enough suitable interest, and we will be in touch as soon as possible regarding the next steps. If you are concerned that this role may close before you are able to apply, please get in touch with our advising consultant to discuss your options.

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

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