‘Incredible work’ praised at 2020 CUBO Winter Conference

Gathering of commercial and campus services leaders highlights issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic

Over 225 CUBO (College and University Business Officers) delegates and business partners gathered for the professional association’s Winter Conference from 1-4 December 2020.

Held virtually, the event’s theme was ‘Protect, Connect, Recover’. Across 18 conference sessions, delegates explored various key issues affecting commercial and campus operations in higher education, including likely post-Brexit scenarios to the innovative ways in which university teams have risen to the challenges of Covid-19.

Key takeaways from the 2020 CUBO Winter Conference:

  • Sharing good practice is vital within the sector.
  • The pandemic was a catalyst for new initiatives, partnerships and ways of working.
  • Universities are now more aware of how commercial services bring life to the campus and the student experience, as well as generate income.
  • Existing trends such as digitalisation, grab and go and healthy eating have been amplified.
  • Some permanent changes are likely in teaching, working life and conferencing.

We need to ride the crest of the wave. The focus has been on us in commercial services, the challenge going forward is to maintain that level of profile and ensure we get the right level of funding – Phil Scott, CUBO

“Everyone in campus services has done incredible work this year,” said Jo Hardman, CUBO chair and head of commercial services at Lancaster University.

“In a year’s time when we can meet in person, we will be able to see the further development of where we are taking services.”

Phil Scott, CUBO board director, added: “We need to ride the crest of the wave. The focus has been on us in commercial services, the challenge going forward is to maintain that level of profile and ensure we get the right level of funding.”

EU students and Brexit

In a conference session on Brexit, UUK International (UUKi) head of European engagement Anne-May Janssen called for a dedicated immigration route for EU students needing short-term study and work placements, and said the fact that the current plans for the student route were too expensive could deter EU students. As a temporary solution, Janssen said, the government should make it more affordable and drop the language requirement.

CUBO Awards 2020

As part of the conference, CUBO also hosted its first virtual awards ceremony, rewarding 10 CUBO members for their outstanding achievements in commercial and campus services at universities across the UK.


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