Wednesday, 4 March 2015


Moving away from technology, this morning's sessions were on space.

First up was the University of Warwick's PVC for planning talking about estates planning
Some interesting figures about UK University estate (all figures exclude student accommodation)
Capital expenditure on estate was £2bn in 2012/13. Revenue cost of supporting the estate is £1.9bn/yr
Size of HE estate is just behind NHS. About 7 times the size of Tesco estate!

Currently there is pressure on capital expenditure, little government funding now, most has to come from reserves or borrowing.
But there is a massive investment in the University estate because space is:
Central to operational effectiveness
Crucial to staff and student experience
Critical in ensuring ability to meet many different demands
Provides a competitive advantage
A third of students have rejected an institution based on the facilities they observed
80% of students say the quality of the facilities have influenced them to accept an offer.

Are issues about how we creatively use space, and space use and utilisation is very important. The effective use of our space is a particular concern of government
Analysis of space usage indicators over last decade tells a positive story, the total net space per fte student is down by 9%. However, the office space for academics is only down by 0.6 % We are not using office space efficiently.

Space norms and metrics can provide information against which opportunities and constraints offered by existing buildings can be reviewed.
Expansion of the estate in relation to growth can be forecast.
Expectations regarding space allocation between departments and amongst colleagues can be managed
But difficult to benchmark as few universities publish space use

Estate is core to the delivery of the academic mission
Student expectation, staff recruitment, retention all depend on high quality facilities.
Capital spending has to be linked to improvements in space management and utilisation
You need space norms, metrics and benchmarking to inform decision making
The sustainability agenda is very important

Last week's UUK efficiency report has a section on delivering value from the HE estate, and emphasises the need for academics and estates departments to work closely together. You can read the report here.

This was followed by talk on helping students to use technology in learning spaces. Primarily it focused on providing power for mobile devices using USB, not 240volts!

Previously discussions have focused around raised floors and floor boxes, but this is now unrealistic. Devices are less hungry for power and USB is fine.
They have some neat little devices, including this which is basically a big battery, which when charged up will provide 8 students with power all day. There are lots of configurations for using them - in middle of round tables or near soft seating and they can be built into furniture or a building.
I was quite impressed with them- so much better than floor boxes!!
They also had some neat collapsible computers in desks, can use space for computers or as desk space.

Finally we had a talk from DBS who design and install technology in teaching areas, residential areas and hotels. They shard a case study on what they'd done at Kings college for some new student accommodation.
They had had built 700 bedrooms, and put enough infrastructure in for at least 7 devices per student.
All the rooms had a flexible digital screen, and wired and wireless networks so all devices can connect to it. It delivered free IPTV and gave access to learning materials, streamed lectures etc

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