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The Changing Role of FM in Universities

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Facilities management (FM) is the third most important factor for students when choosing their university, a 2015 study has found. Combined with rising tuition fees, expanding course offerings and a range of competing facilities, this highlights that a student-orientated service delivery is the key to becoming a university of choice.

Recent statistics from the UK Government revealed English institutions to be some of the most expensive in the world. This reinforces the urgent need for universities to deliver a competitive and attractive offering to students. As a result, leading universities are focusing on enhancing their facilities management into a multi-functional range of services. The modern facilities management offering encompasses services bundled into total or integrated offerings including a range of hard and soft services. The days of separate contracts for cleaning, maintenance and catering provision are a distant memory.

Facilities management can truly differentiate an organisation’s offering and efficiency, and universities are no exception to this. To attract valuable alumni, good facilities management is key, a 2015 research study revealed.

The role of FM providers

“As facilities management providers we play a key role in this, the student focus now centres more on collaborative learning spaces, connectivity of WiFi, recycling and 24/7 access to buildings, rather than the traditional maintenance issues of the past. Providing that all important reassurance, communication and information to students is crucial,” said Carl Goard, General Manager at Bouygues Energies & Services.

The modern facilities management offering can help universities become more student focussed, by concentrating on the delivery of services that support the student experience. Where today’s students seek institutions that present standards of sustainability, technology and infrastructure, facilities management can help reinforce these credentials.

A 2014 Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors event concluded that strategic facilities management offered organisations a competitive advantage by aligning real estate space and facilities services more closely with business requirements

This is the approach we take to many of our facilities management contracts, such as King’s College London, where we provide Total Facilities Management.  We have made efficiencies through changes to soft maintenance services, energy savings and the innovative use of lifecycle funds.

We have implemented a bespoke ten step customer services programme at the university that focuses on student-centric services. This includes a ‘campus maker’, detailing all the amenities on and nearby each campus, including library specialisms, and where to find local amenities. It also incorporates a concierge service, which is particularly useful for students in a new city, as it provides guidance on how to navigate the area, as well as a book drop service enabling students to drop off books at any of the five city centre campus libraries.

Carl explains: “As part of our daily work, we deliver the hard and soft facilities management to two buildings at King’s College London. Throughout this work, particularly in our delivery of security, reception and concierge student-facing services, we’re aware that we have in excess of 3,000 pairs of eyes on us every day, providing a touchpoint between the university and its students via the ‘new’ facilities management landscape.”

The current landscape in which universities operate is continuously evolving. Numerous political, environmental, economic and social factors and trends impact the way in which they operate and differentiate themselves. We at Bouygues Energies & Services remain constantly agile with our clients, ensuring we can easily adapt to their current requirements and anticipate their future environment. We strive to remain top of the league table in delivering these services to universities and their students, so they, in turn, can ensure the best learning and living environments for their students.

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