Identifying opportunities to deliver value from university estates

Loughborough Hazlerigg Building
Loughborough University's Hazlerigg Building (image credit: Loughborough University)
As the funding environment for universities gets tougher, managing estates in a way that is both efficient and can contribute an income will be vital. At an event this week, Loughborough University’s Andrew Burgess will explore some of the strategies to identify commercial opportunities that higher education estates can provide.

Looking ahead to this week’s Transforming Higher Education Estates and Facilities event, I thought I would share some early thoughts with you.

I recommend that you read the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)’s  report Financial Health of the HE Sector: 2014/15 – 2017/18 which outlines the key issues facing the sector over the next two years.

In essence small changes to the funding landscape in terms of income and expenditure will have big impacts on the financial health of the sector. The sector at the moment is producing an average surplus of 3.9%. But just a 5% reduction in public funding over the next three years could plunge the sector into a deficit position. The surplus of an institution assists capital investment and so any opportunity to increase this needs to be grasped.

The backdrop to this is that liquidity is reducing and borrowing for capital investment is increasing. This position is unsustainable in the long term.

The estate provides opportunities to raise income as well as being a large consumer of resource. It is also vital in marketing your institution.

I will provide examples during my presentation on the commercial opportunities that are in existence using Loughborough University as an example. These will include our sports facilities, partnership for a Loughborough London Campus on the Olympic Park and the flexible conversion of buildings.

We will hear from colleagues at other universities including Russell Smith from the University of Bradford on how behaviour change and modernisation in combination can help to save universities money on energy costs and a session on the transformation of historic buildings.

And the Association of University Directors of Estates’ (AUDE) Sue Holmes will also touch on the bigger picture in her keynote on the future priorities for higher education estates, touching on the important issue of doing more with less.

Andrew Burgess is the deputy chief operating officer at Loughborough University. You can follow the event, which is organised by Inside Government, on Twitter using the hashtag #HEestates16