The changing environment for higher education and facilities management

From the challenges and opportunities that COVID has presented, the changing facility management (FM) environment to the future of higher education.

Our Director of Strategic Relationships, Kristiana Greenwood, was invited to speak at the recent TEFMA Directors Forum.

“From the challenges and opportunities that COVID has presented, the changing facility management (FM) environment to the future of higher education.”

Our Director of Strategic Relationships, Kristiana Greenwood, was invited to speak at the recent TEFMA Directors Forum. Joined by Professor Stephen Parker, Global Lead of Education and Skills at KPMG International, and Professor Stuart McCutcheon, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland, the group discussed a range of topics. From the challenges and opportunities that COVID has presented, the changing facility management (FM) environment to the future of higher education.

Professor Parker spoke about the future of higher education and the future of the university campuses from research KPMG International recently undertook and has presented in ‘The Future of Higher Education in a Disruptive World’ report.

He highlighted that universities were already at a crossroad of change and the pandemic had just sped things up significantly. The technology was already calling for a change in delivery, especially with the increased digital learning market. The sector was facing a fundamental economic problem called Baumol Cost Disease and in the Age of the Customer, students had higher expectations about the experience.

What universities now need to do is decide, do they transform, optimize, do nothing, and react later or do nothing at all and take the risk? For many, the realistic option likely falls between transforming or optimizing. Nevertheless, whether transforming or optimizing, the four key building blocks remain the same; review strategy, mission, and purpose, improve core capabilities, adapt a target operating model, and modernize technology to create a ‘connected university’.

Professor McCutcheon provided some interesting NZ trends of teaching and suggested that the new normal will lead to campuses that focus more on technology and distance interactions and much less on the human environment.

He also stressed that in NZ the reliance on international students is paramount, and failure to regain international student numbers will mean smaller campuses and universities much less able to invest in capital infrastructure. Professor McCutcheon feels that there is a risk of government intervention in NZ if public institutions fail to respond quickly and recover financially.

Kristiana rounded out the panel with a business partner perspective, sharing both Global and Australian FM updates, sector mega-trends, and considerations for facility managers across all industries to meet the changing FM environmental demands moving forward.

Like the higher education section, the FM environment is changing due to technology, the age of the customer, urbanization, infrastructure development, and sustainability. Kris emphasized that Facility managers will need to look at environmental stewardship by introducing a circular economy approach. A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.

The construction and property sectors are responsible for approximately 40% of the total energy consumption, 30% of the CO2 emissions, and 40% of the waste generated. To reduce the consumption of resources and the impact on the climate, it is not only necessary to reduce energy consumption in the buildings but also to transfer the energy demand to renewable energy resources – such as wind or solar energy. Facility managers are going to have to reconsider their procurement strategies in the future to facilitate the circular economy model.

The Q&A session and the open discussion with members and guests following the presentations certainly highlighted an interest in the topics discussed. It also highlighted the importance of Thought Leadership forums that open minds and create opportunities to challenge the status quo and think differently about the future.

GJK Facility Services is very proud to be a business partner with TEFMA, and we are looking forward to being involved in many more forums.