We all recognise the challenges the HE sector are under; higher expectations from students, the need to ward off growing international competition, the threats to tuition fees and the overall effect this might have on university funding and the yet unknown Brexit effect and the ability of European students to enjoy the same funding benefits they do now.
Given all this, universities have to continually present themselves in the best possible way in order to attract the best talent. One key way this can happen is by ensuring their estates and facilities are the absolute best they can be – but that in itself can be a challenge.
Aside from staff costs, a university’s estates and facilities are likely to be the next significant cost for university budgets. With spending across all UK universities in excess of £3bn in capital projects as well as similar amounts spent on repairs, maintenance, energy, cleaning and security*. Estates managers need to makes sure they are getting the best ROI possible. This investment is also vital to improve the student experience and good learning outcomes for the 1.7 million students who depend on a quality experience to get the best from their university investment.
Estates and facilities management teams need to balance a meridian of things including cost and quality alongside compliance risks and reducing budgets. Add in rising construction and operating costs and you can see what a juggling act they need to perform.
Universities should consider partnering with service providers who can help drive up improvements and service levels in key areas such as hard or soft facilities management services. There may be those that are reluctant to outsource seeing it as too risky (the Carillion effect) but by seeking out small to medium independent companies to work with who are keener to become an extension to the universities team (rather than just a supplier) can provide real benefits.
Smaller operators value their client relationships and are much more flexible in their approach to contract delivery, offering a modular approach to service delivery where clients can add/remove service areas as needed. Services condensed into a single, easy to manage contract with no hidden costs. This streamlining allows smaller operators to help estates managers run their premises more cost effectively and efficiently ensuring budgets deliver more improvements and higher service levels.
Derwent fm are part of the Places for People group and Derwent Living and are unique in the FM world, blending social responsibility with commercial strength. Our purpose is create profit for social benefit. All our profit is re-invested to regenerate communities by support social housing and community initiatives. By working with us you are not only improving your facilities management services but giving back to the wider community and supporting your corporate social responsibility strategies and impacts.
*(AUDE Higher Education Estates Management 2018)