CUBO gears up professional development in 2017-18

Feedback from CUBO’s biggest-ever conference at Kent in June revealed a desire for greater business acumen and sector know-how

CUBO’s partnership with UHS is now in its second year. Based at the University of Sheffield but operating as an independent company, UHS delivers training to the university sector throughout the year. Courses range from one-day workshops to study tours, and from residence life to facilities management and leadership skills. The benefits for CUBO members are two-fold. The close CUBO–UHS partnership ensures relevant content, and a 20% discount on all courses for any staff member of a CUBO-affiliated university offers significant savings over the year. 

“Helping university heads of commercial services to develop, deliver and lead is a core strategy for CUBO. How do you ensure you’re operating efficiently, using the best methods? Where do you find innovation and inspiration? Our training and conferences provide formal learning and invaluable informal exchange,” says Jan Capper, CUBO CEO.

UHS also works closely with the host university on the content of the twice-yearly CUBO conference. Keynote speakers and member-led sessions at each conference share expertise, experience and best practice under a broad business theme. Thus delegates in Kent learned how to ‘punch above their weight’ in customer service, organisational culture, building infrastructure, event management, team building, business strategy and innovation among others.

Innovation is the umbrella theme for the 2017 CUBO Winter conference, which takes place on 22–23 November at the Telford Innovation Campus of the University of Wolverhampton. 

The conference will examine what innovation is, how businesses benefit from it, innovation in performance and innovation through IT, rounding off with a keynote on inventing the next big thing. 

“Our speakers range from Land Rover Jaguar and hospitality guru Robbie Bargh to next-generation commercial directors at CUBO member institutions. We’re also delighted to be hosting a panel debate on high-street food and beverage versus university brands,” says Emma Furnival, CUBO Chair and Assistant Director, Hospitality and Accommodation Services at the University of Wolverhampton.

Also booking well in November is a Residence Life Professional Development Forum in Sheffield, building on CUBO’s sell-out Residence Life Masterclass with ACUHO-I in 2017. The programme includes an update on Residence Life Learning & Development and sessions on Dealing with Difference, LGBTQ Inclusivity within Residence Life, Supporting Mental Health in Student Accommodation and Residence Life Programming. Participants will also visit Jonas, a new, flexible accommodation at the University of Sheffield, and hear CUBO’s Res Life plans for 2018.

The full autumn programme at includes courses in catering, facilities management and leadership. 

During 2018, CUBO will focus on leadership, business development, innovation, best practice and legislation. “Responding to member demand, a workshop on special purpose vehicles for those considering setting up a subsidiary company is already under development,” says David McKown, Director of UHS and CUBO Executive Committee Member.

A second Residence Life Masterclass is also planned with ACUHO-I in May 2018, as CUBO continues to champion the development of residence life programmes in the UK, the benefits of which include lower drop-out rates, increased student safety and happiness. The 2018 Masterclass will be run twice, in the north and south of England, each combined with a one-day study tour for CUBO members of university and private provider facilities. 

The idea of a UK members’ study tour came from the 2017 CUBO international study tour, sponsored by CUBO Gold Partners Unite Students and Campus Life.  Four UK members joined 16 international participants from the USA, Canada and Italy on a tour of university catering and accommodation facilities in London, Cambridge and Canterbury. Over two days in London, the group visited the London School of Economics’ residential and catering facilities, King’s College London’s Champion’s Hill Residence, the Unite Students accommodation at Wembley and Holloway Road, and Urbanest at Westminster Bridge. A unique insight into the operation of St John’s College Cambridge was followed by a tour of the University of Kent campus in Canterbury. Each stop included presentations of case studies and success models.

“It was an absolutely fantastic opportunity – five days of action-packed accommodation and catering venue site visits, presentations from informative speakers, facility tours and wonderful food and drink. It provided an opportunity to network and I learnt so many interesting things about other institutions and accommodation providers – how other similar departments were structured, the roles their team carried out, to how we could possibly learn from each other to solve daily operational issues that we all experience,” says David Ward, Residential Services Manager, Royal Holloway University of London. 

The study tour was only possible with the support of Unite Students and Campus Life and the hosting universities. Linda Kasper, Executive Director of Residential Education at the University of South Florida, sums up the value: “I’m so glad I participated in the study tour and attended CUBO. 

I learned a lot, am routinely applying lessons learned and thinking about the different expectations international students have when they arrive on my campus. Everyone should go on a study tour at least once, and more often is better.”

June 2018 sees CUBO head to Manchester for its summer conference, hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University on the theme of business agility. The new content model piloted in Kent in 2017, comprising three keynote speeches and an afternoon of ‘pick and mix’ short sessions led by members, will be repeated with some refinements. 

“As we roll out CUBO’s new strategy under the four themes of Deliver, Lead, Connect and Develop, we’re listening closely to members to ensure we provide membership benefits that will improve their institution’s performance and their students’ experience. We don’t underestimate the challenges facing our members and are here to provide a year-round forum for support and exchange,” says Capper. 

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