Universities must consider the impact of cleanliness in attracting consumer-savvy students and increasing retention, according to Andy Vaughan, MD of Resource GB.
Universities and further education facilities have changed considerably over the past few years and with it has emerged a more consumer-conscious and discerning breed of student. With a greater choice of educational institutions to choose from, a wider support network, a dedicated post-graduation career service and a loan facility that needn't be paid back until earnings exceed £21,000, today's students are virtually self-contained and are therefore becoming much more discriminating about their choice of university.
These factors are a direct effect of the changes brought about by the government's White Paper 'Students at the heart of the system' and also Lord Browne's independent review of 'Higher education funding' in 2010.*
In recognising this new breed of student, universities and higher education institutions are now in a position of competing more strongly than ever to ensure their facility not only provides a first-class education but an environment which enables students to thrive at every level.
When institutions position themselves at potential new students, it's still vital to consider the fundamentals of cleanliness, hygiene, good security and adequate accommodation that will allow students to feel part of a 'home away from home'. Parents also need to know that their child is being taken care of to the best of an institution's ability.
Therefore, fulfilling today's higher student expectations can be a serious challenge, particularly at a time when cost efficiencies and savings are being pushed to the top of the agenda. This is where the outsourcing of business-critical services such as cleaning and security can add tremendous value to educational institutions, enabling them to deliver outstanding quality while reducing costs.
Resource GB has been working in partnership with a number of leading educational organisations over the past decade and we've developed a unique collaborative approach with staff and stakeholders in which we operate as an extension of their organisation to support them with the provision of these vital services. In a recent survey we conducted, it was identified that students drew a direct link between their own academic achievements and the cleanliness of their campus and halls of residence. Similar ideologies of cleanliness and student working environments are explored by both the National Student Survey and the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey.
It's clear from these findings that having the right infrastructure in place is crucial for any institution that is looking to both enhance the individual student experience and to attract students who are looking for a long term investment in exchange for their fees.
More and more institutions now have to adhere to stringent 'student charters'. Complaints have to be treated seriously and after teaching quality, facilities such as accommodation, cleaning and security are very high on the list. In these situations, complaints and increasing pressure to maintain such high standards can become stretched and inevitably standards may slip, which is when it may be time to think about outsourcing. In our last Advocacy Survey, our education clients stated that we had met 89% of their needs, with this rising to 90% in terms of contract management.
As outsourcing specialists, we're able to understand a client's specific culture and provide assistance for any unforeseen or ad-hoc duties that need to be taken care of. Working within the education industry for so long has meant that we have a shared intelligence of what is needed for each job undertaken. Furthermore, partnering up with individual universities and further education facilities means we can be seen as an extension to an existing team and as such we can provide highly productive and efficient team to assist institutions with all of their growing needs.
* Government's White Paper 'Students at the Heart of the System' White Paper, 2010; Independent review of Higher Education funding, Lord Browne, 2010.