THE Prince of Wales visited Reading today (March 8) to celebrate the centenary of University College of Estate Management (UCEM).

His Royal Highness, who is a Patron of the College, took a tour around the building on Queen's Road, learned about its new virtual learning platform and unveiled a plaque to commemorate his visit.

Ashley Wheaton, Principal at UCEM, said: "Today has been wonderful, the chance to update our Royal Patron on all the great work we are doing was fabulous and I think he really enjoyed himself.

"He was so engaged with students and staff and it has been wonderful."

The Prince of Wales was also told how the college encourages people of all ages to take on apprenticeships and how there is a steady increase in women taking on construction and real estate roles.

The visit, which coincided with International Women's Day, celebrated women taking on opportunities in STEM subjects, such as science and technology.

Ashley added: "The construction and real estate industry has a challenge with diversity and widening participation.

"We are doing pretty well here, with about 30 per cent of out students who are female, which bucks the trend. But its still not enough and our industry needs many more women and from diverse backgrounds.

A speech by the College Principal was presented to The Prince at the unveiling of the plaque, thanking his Patron for making a difference to the education system for 100 years.

Ashley said: "We are ever so grateful for your ongoing support which began in 1988, when you graciously accepted our invitation to become president of the college and your subsequent Royal Patronage, which commenced in 1988, and of course your many visits.

"We are deeply proud of the accomplishments of UCEM and the difference we can make to peoples lives throughout the world, either directly as students studying at UCEM or indirectly through their ongoing careers and work."

Formed in 1919, UCEM was established to support the training and development of professionals in land or property-based jobs.

During the Second World War, it provided more than 17,000 courses of instruction to servicemen and prisoners of war, as well as providing training to the Women’s Land Army.

An array of historic artefacts honouring UCEM's history, including the provision of learning to Irene Barclay - who went on to become the first female Chartered Surveyor - and a variety of historical learning resources dating back to the Second World War.

The artefacts will then be displayed at Reading Museum later this year, as part of a year of centenary celebrations.