University Estate & Facilities Management Teams Prepare for an Increase in Students!

AUDE (Association of University Directors of Estates) supports directors of estates and facilities management with decision making across UK universities. The association releases an annual report and this year, the report has uncovered some interesting insights including:

  • Overall capital expenditure on the university estate is at £3.5 billion for the first time
  • Carbon emissions have fallen by 8kg
  • University income has grown by 7.4%

The key trend that stood out from the report is the changing student demographic. In 2021, the number of potential undergraduates is predicted to begin to grow for the first time in a decade! It is worth noting that in some cases, the rise of international students has helped prevent a dip in numbers over recent years, however, for most institutions, the reduced number of UK 18-year-olds available to enter university has resulted in a decline of students.

The predicted future increase will have a huge impact on facilities and estate management teams. Capital funding, social value, security, sustainability, accommodation take-up, carbon use and supplier project engagement (amongst much more) will become much bigger factors to manage.

In addition to the above, students’ expectations are heightening. Shaun Johnson, Business Development Manager at Integral UK, JLL’s UK facilities and engineering services firm said: “As soon as higher education became related to cost, the relationship between university and student moved towards something far closer to customer service.” This has resulted in a whole host of new expectations including:

  • Fast reliable Wi-Fi – students are increasingly bringing devices to lectures to use when studying. This requires universities to have better bandwidth and a fast response strategy in place for any internet issues.
  • The look and feel of the buildings and lecture halls need to be engaging and modern.
  • Canteen suppliers need to be varied with healthy options.
  • Younger generations are very eco-minded. Facilities need to be environmentally friendly such as options to recycle, double glazing to reduce central heating needs and light sensor technology to limit energy waste.
  • Convenience – students want a strong tenant-mix on campus and the surrounding areas including bars, gyms, retail etc.

University estates and facilities management teams need to prepare for the increase in footfall. They are vital in ensuring the assets are not only managed effectively and are safe, but in enticing students to study at one university over another.

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