AUDE 2015 Conference Review

University of Stirling successfully hosts an excellent AUDE Conference 2015

The AUDE 2015 conference, which was held at the University of Stirling from 30 March to 1st April, was a huge success.  Delegates enjoyed a packed programme of plenaries and seminars, a lively social programme and were supported by a 50 stand exhibition and sponsorship. With the Higher Education sector facing changes not seen for a generation – Increased tuition fees, declining income and greater competition all place significant pressure on Universities.  AUDE and its members play a vital role in supporting Universities’ response to these changes and how they achieve their vision and continually enhancing the student experience.

The conference provides the most senior representatives in the HE estate sector, the opportunity to get together and share best practice, discuss current topics and future trends as well as share ideas for a common purpose. 

Key note speeches included advice, guidance and high-level discussion around understanding the needs of Generation Z to improve the student experience, how to spend budgets wisely and ensuring the green agenda remains a priority across all estates in the UK. Notable conference highlights included: 

Sue Holmes announced as new Chair of AUDE

Sue Holmes, ‎Director Of Estates and Facilities Management at Oxford Brookes University was announced as the new AUDE Chair at the conference. She is recognised as an expert on university space management, developing innovative spaces which create flexible and interesting areas in which to develop teaching and learning, and on issues related to effective use of space and good design in UK Higher Education and has spoken nationally and internationally on this subject.Sue takes up the Chair of AUDE at the 2015 April AGM and her term of office is one year.

She said: “In the latest Times Higher Education World Rankings, 11 UK Universities were included in the top 100.  One of the key factors in scoring is the depth, breadth and quality of facilities available to the students.It is our role to ensure that the facilities continue to be world class to draw and retain the finest students from across the UK and internationally. AUDE and its members are at the forefront of ensuring the high quality of U.K. university estates and facilities management is maintained.

I am thrilled to be joining as chair of AUDE and I am eager to build on the organisation’s many strengths.  I also look forward to ensuring AUDE is heard as it engages with Universities UK, funding councils and numerous other organisations and committee.”

Delivering value

The first plenary of the conference featured Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Aberdeen and Dr Ghazwa Alwani-Starr, Director of Estates and Campus Services, University of  Roehampton  discussing effectiveness and efficiency in UK Higher Education.

The talk provided the context for the continued need for universities to embrace the efficiencies agenda. It discussed strategies that universities could adopt and in some cases are using to deliver greater efficiencies.

It focused on how the estates deliver value and was based on Sir Ian Diamond’s Phase II review of efficiency and effectiveness in Higher Education and also AUDE’s recently  published Efficiencies report 'Delivering Value from the HE Estate', (

Both reports highlights the economic impact of UK universities:

• Contributing at least £73 billion a year to the national economy

• Responsible for over £10 billion in export earnings

• Supporting more than 700,000 jobs across the UK

• Generating more gross domestic product (GDP) per unit of resource than health, public administration and construction

• Creating 117 jobs in the wider economy for every 100 people employed directly in universities.

The focus on universities’ impact on the economy and society is grounded in providing world-class education; in excellence and diversity in research and innovation; in supporting the needs of business and industry; and in their global reputation for quality higher education.

AUDE Awards

The inauguralHigher Education Estates and Facilities Awards took place at the Gala dinner on the last evening of the conference. The Awards are designed to highlight and celebrate the exceptional achievements of universities and those who work in them.

       The judges were on the lookout for teams, projects and individuals who have made a significant contribution to enhancing excellence and ensuring university estates provide best value to support the institutional mission and promote professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness.

      The Awards provided an excellent opportunity to showcase sector achievements and allow everyone to learn from knowledge of the very best practice taking place in our institutions today.

The categories and winners were:

  • The AUDE Estates/Facilities Team of the Year Award: For exceptional team work leading to significant achievement.

Winners:The Lancaster Team led by Director of Estates Mark Swindlehirst

  • The AUDE University Impact Initiative of the Year Award: This award seeks to recognise a specific initiative having a significant positive impact on the institution, the sector and/or the profession.

Winner: Social Informal Learning Team led by Mike Clark – Brighton University

  • The AUDE Emerging Talent Award:  Celebrates and rewards a member of staff, working in estates or facilities, who is making an exceptional contribution and demonstrates great potential for the future.

Winner: Ian Gould-Jones – Liverpool John Moores University

  • The AUDE Chair's Award for Long Term Contribution: For achievements benefitting the higher education estates/FM community, by an individual, over an extended period of time.

Winner: Colin Blair - Huddersfield University

The AUDE Conference in 2016 will be held at the University of Exeter from Monday 4 April to Wednesday 6 April with a pre-conference social on 3 April. This event is for members of AUDE and invited guests and will be accompanied by an exhibition and sponsorship opportunities.

AUDE promotes excellence in the strategic planning, management, operation and development of Higher Education estates and facilities.  AUDE offers membership to publically funded UK bodies whose primary remit is higher education teaching and/or research.   For more information please visit