Efficiency in a student-focused world

With universities coming under growing pressure to justify how they use their resources, efficiency is back in the spotlight. But the focus will increasingly be on how well institutions meet the needs of their students, while accommodating growing cost pressures.

Our universities operate in a challenging environment. Expectations of funders and fee-paying students are rising. Competition from traditional and alternative providers is becoming more intense. And costs continue to increase. All of which mean that institutions need to do ever more with the resources at their disposal.

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When it comes to improving efficiency, our universities have already made great strides. They have streamlined processes and eliminated waste. They have improved space utilisation and reduced energy consumption. They have shared services, pooled assets and co-located professional services staff. And they have become lean, mean procurement machines.

This is all great news, but it is no longer enough. Continue reading

Telling better stories

A while back, I had the good fortune to visit the vast cave complex at Lascaux in southwestern France. But these are no ordinary caves. They are famed throughout the world for their beautiful display of paleolithic cave paintings, created by our ancestors over 17,000 years ago. These paintings tell the stories of what life was life. How these early humans lived. How they survived. And how they died. Continue reading

Good management is important. Even in a university.

When I work with people in the higher education sector, one of the most common things I hear is that universities are different from other types of organisation. The purpose is different. The structure is different. The people are different. Standard ideas of what constitutes good management just don’t apply in the higher education setting, people tell me. But I think they do. And now I have evidence. Continue reading

Academic workload modelling: Friend or foe?

One of the concerns that I hear most frequently from university senior managers is that they have no idea how members of their academic staff are spending their time. And a common complaint from academics themselves is that the ‘centre’ just doesn’t understand the huge number of different activities that they have to contend with. Workload modelling provides a way to bridge this gap. Continue reading