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30 April 2021 Cheryl Pick, Projects and Engagement Manager
Eighteen months after the launch of the AUDE Capital Cost Database in November 2019, and with the massive and distracting challenge of Covid-19 intervening, its time to take a look at how members have been using the database, and how this new AUDE tool is supporting decision-making on capital spends across our universities.
In the newly published AUDE Annual Capital Cost Database Report AUDE and partners AECOM have taken a look at the progress of the database during its first year in action.
It’s clear that the Capital Cost Database is informing lots of conversations on campus. After the year of the pandemic we can only assume the database will become more and more useful over time as budgets stretch and capital programmes need to justify their return on the university’s investment even more than they ever have.
AUDE members submitted and continue to submit a wide variety of projects to the database. New build projects feature, but so do refurbishments. Large buildings feature, but so do smaller ones: regardless of the size, shape or value, members can learn from the procurement decisions of others across the country. 78 of the projects featured in the database during its first year are in some degree a refurbishment, while 70 can be considered new builds. We certainly encourage members to engage with the database, to learn from it in assessing their own project plans, and to keep submitting their capital projects so that this tool becomes more and more useful over time.
The benefits of engaging with the Capital Cost Database are as clear as they were on the day of its launch. Universities can access relevant data from all projects within the database, helping them make informed decisions about their own spend. Data is verified, and a wide variety of reports can be extracted from the system. As the first annual report on the database says, “The AUDE Capital Cost Database helps members to forecast key project costs, drivers and metrics via a robust data capture process, applied to completed projects”.
Speaking on publication of the annual report, Kenneth Kinsella, Director of Capital Development at the LSE and AUDE’s Capital Group lead, said: “There can be no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has had, and will continue to have, significant implications on the University sector for years to come as we grapple with what this new and next normal will mean for students, staff and institutions themselves. Necessary shifts to online learning, tutorials and working have changed our perceptions of what we need from our university estates.
“As campuses and institutions start to open up and students and staff return, a fundamental rethink is both required and necessary; long life, loose fit, highly utilised, greener buildings that can be easily reconfigured to meet changing demands and wider economic pressures, which will inevitably impact on university finances in the years ahead.
“Our higher education institutions in the UK and Ireland regularly feature highly in the World University Rankings, enjoying highly respected reputations by academics and students alike. Today’s climate makes maintaining competitive advantage possibly more challenging than ever before, but it is a challenge we must respond to through investing in our estates to ensure our facilities are equipped to adapt to the new frontiers of teaching and research.”
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