The impact of university buildings on students’ lifetime behaviour will be at the heart of the debate at April’s AUDE conference
The coming 12 months for AUDE are set to be big - our annual conference is in April and this year, Estate Directors and AUDE will consult on a wide range of issues – key themes include the impact of the estate and campus services on students’ experience, and effectiveness and efficiency in UK higher education. The student experience is becoming more and more important, especially following the recent changes in student funding. When we talk about the student experience it’s not about just getting a good degree and having a great time whilst at University, we also look at how the estate and its facilities might also shape our students in someway, preparing them for the next stages of their lives.
There are some real opportunities. Take student accommodation, we have the opportunity to design and deliver accommodation that is more environmentally sustainable. If we are able to educate our students in how to live more sustainably with less impact on the environment, then we all benefit. Some universities are now holding ‘carbon’ competitions pitching student houses against each other. The results are very revealing. The most energy conscious students use a third of the utilities (electricity, gas and water) when compared with those that don’t take such issues seriously and this in turn has led to initiatives to influence behavioural change. If we could replicate these results across the globe, we wouldn’t be worrying about the pending energy crisis or the increasing prices.
The most energy conscious students use a third of the utilities (electricity, gas and water) when compared with those that don’t take such issues seriously and this in turn has led to initiatives to influence behavioural change. If we could replicate these results across the globe, we wouldn’t be worrying about the pending energy crisis or the increasing prices
But it’s not just about student accommodation; the UK’s higher education sector is worth approximately £27bn every year and is relevant to 2.4 million members of the British population. Our sector incorporates leading edge research centres and laboratories, teaching facilities, lecture halls, office accommodation, restaurants and cafes and accommodation for start-up companies and new enterprise. Increasingly universities share facilities with local communities, such as libraries and learning centres, sports facilities and concert halls.
Our ‘Estates: The Foundations of Higher Education’ report, which was published in November of last year, is a challenging and interesting analysis of the estates of the higher education sector. Not only did the report highlight that the size of the university sector is set to remain constant in the coming years, the statistics also showed that whilst property costs rose substantially up to 2008-9, costs are now remaining relatively stable year on year. The report highlighted the size of the university sector - it’s huge! The total estate (academic and residential) totals 26.7 million m2 in the UK, which equates to approximately 220 Shard buildings, or the equivalent of seven times the total of every Tesco outlet in the UK put together! In terms of cost, the sector spent £ 2,205 million of capital expenditure, which is equivalent to the cost of building over four Olympic stadiums!
I hope this short piece has given you a brief insight into what we do and the importance of our ever challenging and changing sector. Over the coming months, I look forward to blogging about some of the sector’s issues, including the outcomes of our conference in April and our annual Estates Management Survey further down the line.
You can contact AUDE at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Swindlehurst, chairman, Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) and Director of Facilities at Lancaster University