Double honour

Two Universities were recently honoured at the AUDE Awards. The University of Brighton won The AUDE University Impact Initiative of the Year Award whilst Lancaster University Facilities Team won ‘Facilities/ Estates Team of the Year’.

AUDE Awards:

A Case Study: Social Informal Learning Spaces (SILS) at University of Brighton, winner of The AUDE University Impact Initiative of the Year Award

The Social Informal Learning Spaces (SILS) at University of Brighton have been honoured with The AUDE University Impact Initiative of the Year Award. The SILS project at Brighton University was the stand out initiative that had the most positive impact on its University and students. The annual AUDE Awards, held this year at the University of Stirling, aim to highlight and celebrate the exceptional achievements of universities and those who work within them.

The University of Brighton impressed the judges with their innovative SILS project. SILS was primarily developed around research and the realisation that the role of the University is changing and therefore needed to provide a different experience for the student. Brighton responded to this brief by designing their social informal and learning spaces to look natural and crop out of nowhere, making students comfortable and at ease with their surroundings.    

This award not only recognises the space for which the award was granted but honours the team that developed it. The two graduates appointed to oversee the SILS initiative, Tom Munson and Carly West, were given the freedom and autonomy needed to engage with the student community effectively. Being recent graduates created an immediate empathy with the student body and built the trust and respect needed to provide the best possible spaces to learn and socialise.  

Mike Clark, Director of Estate & Facilities Management at University of Brighton says: "The SILS project has demonstrated that empowering staff at a relatively junior level can bring significant and demonstrable benefits to the University. Tom and Carly were instrumental in the inception, development and implementation of the project and were invited to speak at a major conference on learning environments in 2013. The exceptional performance of the team was also recognised by the University of Brighton."

SILS at Brighton University have also benefited other University campuses as a shining example of social learning space. Other Universities have heard about the SLIS project through word of mouth, consultants working on other places at the University and through feedback shared with them. Over 100 industry professionals benefited from a presentation Tom and Carly were invited to give at the Design & Management of Learning Environments conference in June 2013. They both gave an assured assessment of the project.

The University of Brighton is located on three sites within Brighton, two sites in Eastbourne and one site in Hastings. This geographical spread could be unique for a single University in the UK and presents challenges which one location Universities won't encounter. The SILS model works as a mechanism by which the Universities resources can be effectively applied across the various estates to the benefit of all students.  

Lancaster University Facilities Win National ‘Team of the Year’ Award

The Facilities team at Lancaster University have won the Association of University Directors and Estates (AUDE) ‘Facilities/ Estates Team of the Year’ Award.

The inaugural Higher Education Estates and Facilities Awards highlight and celebrate the exceptional achievements of universities and those who work in them and make a significant contribution to enhancing excellence, ensuring university estates provide best value to support the institutional mission and promote professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness.

The Facilities team consists of over 600 staff, the majority are from the local area and deliver the following services on campus for the students and the local community; Sports Centre, Pre-School, Lancaster Conferences, guest rooms, bars, cafes and restaurants, Design, Print and Photography, maintenance and infrastructure, cleaning, refurbishments and new building projects, energy and carbon reduction and security.

The entry summarised how the team is striving to meet and exceed expectations by placing people and customer service at the heart of improving performance by being MAD – Making a Difference.

The key areas the team have prioritised included: a culture that focuses on values and behaviour, creating an environment that fosters success and pride with the desire to make things happen by team working; getting closer to their “customers”, understanding their priorities and challenges, developing and nurturing relationships for better collaboration and increased satisfaction; improving communications and accessibility, simplifying their systems and processes.

The team also developed an innovative training programme to reach out to staff at all levels, recognising that people have different attitudes and respond in a number of ways. A bespoke training programme developed by BIFM – British Institute of Facilities Management, delivered by Anne Lennox-Martin, an inspirational tutor, was rolled out to all managers, supervisors and customer service champions.

The judges commented that the Lancaster team has “a very comprehensive approach doing lots of things well, a focus on student experience, values and behaviour. The Making a Difference (MAD) scheme is an exemplar that is now being rolled out across Professional Services.”

The award win comes following a string of recent successes for Facilities including the Green Gown Carbon Reduction award for the 2nd year running, the Green Flag award for campus grounds for the 3rd year running, Best Halls for the 5th year running and two Gold Food for Life awards.

Mark Swindlehurst, Director of Facilities said: “Winning this award is a fantastic achievement and testimony to the efforts of everyone in the Facilities Team at Lancaster University. We are really proud of our entire team here at Lancaster and delighted that our efforts have been recognised by AUDE at a national level.”

The AUDE Awards are the inaugural Higher Education Estates and Facilities Awards, designed to encourage excellence in the Higher Education estates facilities sector. For more information, please visit: