RAAC: AUDE statement

06 September 2023      Martin Higgs, AUDE Communications and Campaigns Manager

On 14 June the Department for Education asked AUDE to share its document ‘A Quick Guide to Identifying RAAC’ with AUDE member universities. We did indeed share this document on 16 June, together with further reminder information that would help to set the context for the DfE’s document, namely:

The issue of the potential failure of RAAC concrete slabs in university buildings has therefore specifically been on the recent radar of AUDE members since that date, as part of a pattern of warnings around the technology such as those detailed above. Universities will have been collating information to develop specific plans, surveying affected areas, and scheduling replacement or other remedial works as part of the regular process of managing asset condition, in which they assess and prioritise risks of all kinds in every area of the building fabric of their universities. As RAAC concrete has been used most often in flat-roof areas, it is difficult to access, maintain, survey and replace. The RAAC issue affects different universities in very different ways. Our oldest and our newest universities (built after 1996) are unlikely to have RAAC for instance. Understanding more about those university-specific plans is vital in being able to understand the scale of the issue, and also the likely costs and timescales of remedial works.

AUDE does not have access to those plans, though we are setting out with our members to understand much more of the way RAAC affects the entire HE estate and will report findings as soon as possible. The change in priority level announced by the government on 31 August brings new urgency to a national situation. Universities will want to re-prioritise in the light of the government’s action, as will those with responsibility for the fabric of buildings across much of the public and private sector: schools, courts, local authority buildings and others are all potentially affected.

AUDE will this week conduct a short survey of its members asking for their initial estimate of the scale and complexity of the problem in their universities, the results of which we will share as soon as possible with interested parties.

Scottish universities are a step ahead of counterparts in the rest of the country, having been asked to explain their planning by the Scottish Funding Council in an information-gathering exercise completed on 1 September. AUDE’s survey will help us to achieve a national picture.

Until AUDE member universities are able to give us this information we are not able to comment further as to the extent or likely cost of replacement or similar detail on this issue.

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