The estate we’re in

Jane White reflects on the findings of AUDE's annual Estates Management Report (EMR) for 2018.

The overall performance of the higher education estate is stronger than ever. That’s quite a claim. Can we back it up?

The Association of University Directors of Estates has long-established KPIs measuring efficiency, quality, value, and sustainability for member institutions to use. It relates to the physical environment of universities such as the standard of accommodation and teaching spaces. In turn these relate to each university’s ability to attract and retain staff, provide a well-rounded and high-quality student experience, and compete successfully in an increasingly global education marketplace. And data from our 160 plus members tells us that against these KPIs overall performance is better than it has ever been.

The big picture

So what to look out for in this year’s report? The headline figure is £3bn in capital expenditure, an amount achieved for the third year running and matched by a similar amount of investment in day-to-day estates spending on everything from maintenance to cleaning.

In thinking about the data in this report I’m struck by what complicated ecosystems universities are.

Of that £3bn in everyday expenditure, as much as 35% is spent in repairs and maintenance and 13% – or £390m – on cleaning services. The report highlights the role that university estates play in local economies – from Falmouth to Inverness.

The Estates Management Report 2018 is a benchmarking report, dividing our institutions – for comparison purposes – by size and by teaching. The data and analysis allows estates directors to get a clear sense of where they stand. Working with peer directors and vice chancellors and with their own estates and facilities teams, they have the hard data and the underpinning facts that will give them confidence in their strategic decision making. EMR is an information base of real value, particularly in a time of uncertainty.

As Nancy Rothwell, president and vice chancellor at the University of Manchester, highlights in her foreword, the report “illustrates improved efficiencies in the sector”. That’s exactly what we want to demonstrate.

Finance directors will be interested in the “value” KPI, while carbon managers will focus on sustainability. Case studies throughout – from the University of Huddersfield’s “building without debt” to ideas from the University of Lincoln for enhancing student wellbeing on campus – will guide readers towards best practice. It will help our members to make the right decisions on the big themes and choices facing their institution, whether that be income and expenditure on the residential estate or the best way to fund that world-class new facility.

AUDE (The Association of University Directors of Estates) today published the annual Estates Management Report (EMR) for 2018.

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