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Trading places

UB editor Rebecca Paddick took a trip to Cardiff Business School, to see its collaborative learning spaces and state-of-art trading room

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | March 25, 2015 | Higher education

Boosting the local economy, bolstering its research reputation, and training the future global business leaders, Cardiff Business School’s new Postgraduate Teaching Centre certainly has a lot to live up to.

The £14.5 million building officially opened in September 2014. Back then, Professor Colin Riordan, Vice Chancellor of Cardiff University, said that the new hub will not only help the business school attract tomorrow’s best students, but it will also “help deliver Executive Education programmes for today’s business leaders, building long-term partnerships that bring significant mutual benefits to the Business School and the University”.

He also hopes the centre will help drive the local economy – independent studies show Cardiff Business School contributes over £76m to the Welsh economy every year.

Money well spent

So what do you get for £14.5 million? Two major lecture theatres, which can host almost 400 students, an executive education suite for short and bespoke programmes for middle and senior managers, 12 teaching and seminar rooms – flexible in design to open up into larger spaces, MBA and MSC lounge areas, a Postgraduate hub – a one-stop-shop for all postgraduate student enquiries and admin/course interactions, and the 60-seater ‘trading room’ for real-time trades in global stocks – more on the trading room later.

The concourse area, lecture theatres, teaching and common rooms and the executive education suite are all fitted with Stone Group hardware to enable collaboration on the University network.

Sustainability at its heart

The building also boasts a range of ‘green’ architectural design features including a twin skin façade which acts as an acoustic screen and allows natural ventilation, photovoltaic panels which provide 10% of the energy, and green roof areas to aid biodiversity.

The business school incorporates an elliptical four-storey structure with terracotta rainscreen cladding to its façade and an attached two-storey teaching wing with extensive curtain walling. The lecture theatre has been designed with bi-fold walls and folding partitions, so the building can also be used as a high-specification conferencing venue.

The trade off

But the jewel in the new building’s crown is without doubt its trading room. Sponsored by the Welsh Government, OSTC and EUREX, the trading room provides students with the opportunity to gain practical skills required for life at the Stock Exchange.

“We calculated that we needed two large lecture theatres, several seminar rooms, and a much bigger trading room – the old trading room only had 16 seats, and we’ve got 60 seats in the new building,” explains Neil Davies, Technical Services Manager at Cardiff Business School.

He added: “This new facility gives us a much better environment, and when you design a trading room it's all about the environment. Once you create a space with multiple screens and all these different focal points of information and data, it gives the students an environment that is very similar to what they could potentially be working in.”

So has it been money well spent? Third year BSc Economics, Banking & Finance student, Matthew Isherwood, seems to think so: “Being able to use the Bloomberg software has given me that competitive edge. I had an interview with an investment bank recently, and I was able to talk about new data which came out that morning. The other candidates didn’t have access to that sort of information as they don’t have Bloomberg at their universities.”

The new-build’s impact on the local economy will be realised soon enough, but, just a few months after opening, the Postgraduate Teaching Centre is already proving successful with the University’s students – the business leaders of tomorrow. 

Getting technical: the trading room has been equipped with: 

✥ 57 Stone Ultra Small Form Factor PCs and 114 monitors to provide dual screens for students
✥ A further 23 high-specification Stone Ultra Small Form Factor PCs for the displays
✥ Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters Eikon and TraderEx simulation software to provide real-time trading and Global Investors portfolio management
✥ Two screens and projectors for lecturers and teachers who want to demonstrate to students
✥ Five Large Format Displays so that students can collaborate

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