The university sector has faced significant changes over the recent years. The trebling of tuition fees changed the nature of the relationship between the student and their University completely and, with the cap on student numbers being lifted, student recruitment is no longer under government control thereby creating a competitive market.
It’s our role as estate directors to ensure that the facilities we are responsible for are to be world class so that we can support our respective institutions in attracting and retaining the finest students and staff from across the UK and internationally. AUDE and its members are at the forefront of ensuring effective and efficient UK university estates and facilities are developed and maintained. The marketisation of HE has brought a number of new challenges and our role is to turn these in to opportunities to drive innovative solutions to modernise the estate and the services our members provide.
One of our strategic areas of focus is the sustainability agenda. That’s why in partnership with the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) we recently launched the Green Scorecard, designed to be a comprehensive tool to help Higher Education Institutions across the UK measure the sustainability work they do, set targets and benchmark in areas generally related to the estate. It will also help us to showcase best practice and to highlight areas where we can improve. We have worked closely with EAUC to create an objective scorecard that will grow year on year and we are excited to develop our partnership further.
Recent years have also seen the expansion of international students as well the huge population of home students, with well over one million, 1,698,452, students in UK Universities. In an ever growing competitive market, our recent ‘Higher Education Estates Statistics Report 2015’ revealed that the UKHE continues to attract excellent students. AUDE will continue to focus on the needs of all students and what role facilities play in their choice of university. With an increased international student population, it is important we understand and can respond to these needs. For instance, in recent years there has been a shift from bars to coffee shops incorporated into social learning spaces on campus. Our annual student experience survey explores this topic, to ensure we understand how to provide the best possible facilities.
We have changed the AUDE central resource too, recently employing a project officer to support the work of the Executive Officer. One of our aims is to increase engagement with our membership and to ensure AUDE remains relevant to its members. The Executive will soon be considering further resource so that we have a truly professional resource to take forward AUDE into the future. I also look forward to ensuring AUDE is seen as a strategic partner with UK funding councils, BIS and numerous other organisations and partners. I am delighted to be AUDE’s chair and excited to work with AUDE members in 2016 to assist them to continue to deliver excellent estate and facilities management.
Trevor Humphreys is the Association for Directors of Estates Chair and Director of Estates and Facilities at the University of Surrey
To find out more about AUDE and the university estates and facilities sector, visit www.aude.ac.uk