Many thanks to the attendees at the recent University sector round table breakfast and discussion. A fully engaging event, as always, with some new ideas to improve collaboration and efficient delivery in this challenging sector. Let’s remember that 4 of the top 40 universities in the world are in London – this is truly world class and our clients expect nothing less from their delivery teams.
We discussed the 4% reduction in university applications and why this showed a slow in mature students applying while the proportion of 18 year olds applying was the highest recorded. Surely the economy would influence the decision to go to university – in a relatively flat employment market, you might expect the mature student to take the opportunity to retrain. In a more buoyant market, less university entrants as potential candidates go into work while salaries are relatively high; returning to education when the market flattens again. But perhaps that’s the capitalist coming out in me a little. The evidence shows potential mature students are preferring to stay employed and undergraduates are being drawn to the universities as they begin to become much more self-aware and really starting to sell the benefits of higher education – and their own unique way in which they do this.
We discussed the difficulties of examining a typical VE exercise. It ought to be well understood that value engineering isn’t an exercise in reducing cost – it is engineering better overall value on the project. This could be over the life of the project and therefore increase the total capex while having a reducing impact on the opex. None of us want to be involved in a race to the bottom at tender stage!
The discussion moved through an increase in the clients design quality requirements, teaching versus learning space and the need for the entire delivery team to behave in a more consultative way to add value at each stage of the project. Here is what some of the delegates said afterwards:
“…always informative and good humoured…”
“…Wow that was super interesting. Great to hear views from fellow professionals, consultants and estates converging on the importance of briefing and quality as well as the move away from teaching to collaborative learning environments… so much crossover with commercial, retail and even leisure. And the China challenge? All very exciting stuff and we do need to think outside the box and test the boundaries to stay ahead of the game – not just as individuals but as a dynamic project team. Thank you so much for another fabulous breakfast…”
And we had a few suggestions for topics for the next event:
- BIM – true innovation or just smoke and mirrors to disguise industry’s failure to capitalise on the opportunities CAD offered decades ago?
- Collaborative working – why do we feel the need to rely on a contract, i.e. NEC and not rely on our teams to behave as grown-ups and resolve differences as we go ?
Probably emotive language but at that time of the morning it might provoke reactions!