9 challenges facing higher education estates managers

  • 16th May 2024

There are nine key challenges facing education estates professionals, according to client feedback received by facilities management recruitment specialist, 300 North.

According to the Higher Education Estates Management Report 2018, it is estimated that university estates now spend an estimated £3bn a year on capital projects.

And, over the years, the role of estates management teams has moved beyond just maintaining and constructing buildings and infrastructure.

They now have a commitment to providing staff, students, and visitors with quality facilities and services while helping to shape the future role of the estate as a physical environment.

Based on feedback from clients, including estates directors, 300 North has put together a list of the most-pressing challenges managers face.

  1. Keeping up with and meeting the high expectations of the next generation of students
  2. Balancing quality and cost while juggling a framework of compliance and tightening budgets
  3. Beating off increasing competition from colleges and universities across the globe
  4. Facing a time of uncertainty around Brexit and the impact this will have on higher education
  5. Potentially being subjected to a reduction in tuition fees meaning less money for capital projects
  6. Managing growing estates with more complex needs
  7. Constructing and managing new buildings with higher operating costs
  8. Losing confidence in outsourced contracts thanks to the collapse of companies such as Carillion
  9. Experiencing significant cuts in capital funding from the Government

Key to overcoming these challenges, according to 300 North, is the need to develop strategic decisions which are right for the individual needs of each higher education setting and its stakeholders.

What’s more, as highlighted in research carried out by Deloitte, colleges and universities must think globally to develop a strong student and stakeholder value proposition to distinguish them from their competitors.

“Within the higher education sector, the responsibility of creating a rich learning environment falls heavily on the shoulders of colleges and universities, in particular its estates and facilities management (FM) teams,” said a 300 North spokesman.

“Unfortunately, an uncertain future and cuts in funding are going to shape the higher education sector, but we must remember that college and university estates are critical to the success of any institution.”

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