Service continuum and the importance of being clueless
The conference was opened by Andrew Rhodes, Registrar and COO of Swansea University, a £300 million organisation where "everything we do is based on some type of partnership or collaboration". Examples included the Global Challenges Programme in partnership with Hillary Rodham Clinton, over 800 industry partnerships for paid internships and the development of energy positive buildings: Swansea's active classroom, which featured on the conference campus tour, generates 1.5 times the energy it uses.
The role of universities in the UK's global standing and competitiveness cannot be underestimated, Rhodes argued, making the case for more investment in higher education and for better internal cooperation to create economies of scale and a service continuum. "Students don't see a divide between academic and professional services" was a point made strongly by Rhodes that found its echo in a later workshop by Acuho-I, the association of student housing officers in the US, where academic residential communities and teaching within residencies are already well established.
Sahar Hashemi OBE illustrated how to be innovative and entrepreneurial in any kind of organisation through her fascinating personal story of Coffee Republic, from the seed of an idea to the eventual sale of a national chain. Among many excellent tips from this lawyer turned entrepreneur was being clueless - unrestricted by past baggage, out of your normal groove and open-minded. Professor Charles Spence opened minds brilliantly to the potential of multi-sensory experiences in eating and living, from the visual impact and naming of food, to the effect of different music and wall colours on behaviour and mood...
Small steps, breaking records and a nod to whales in Wales
Through his tale of partnerships in high-risk engineering projects and land speed records, Richard Noble OBE demonstrated the determination, persuasive skills and innovation needed to achieve ambitious goals and excellence. A consistent theme of this conference was embracing change - whether in Noble's "you don't get a world record using existing technology" or successful Welsh entrepreneur Rachael Flanagan's "what got you here won't get you there". Expect to see some of the innovative marketing and staff recruitment ideas developed by Rachael's Mrs Bucket Cleaning Services and their partners finding their way into university campus services before long...
Eight break-out sessions featured successful university partnerships, from crowdfunding and energy saving to virtual sport, ethical food and working with the police. Swansea University and First Cymru's 24-hour Unibus Service, which went on to win the CUBO Business Partner Award, is an example of a university and commercial operator working brilliantly together for university, staff, students and the local community.
Wrapping up the conference, 2010 Olympic Gold Medallist in the Skeleton, Amy Williams, talked about the teamwork, focus and tiny incremental changes in kit design and nutrition that create a world-class performance. Her tips for universities: improve the food served in sport facilities, improve the facilities themselves, and like athletes, get out and experience different types of environment.
The orca, symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympics gold medal, is associated with strength, dignity and teamwork. Not a bad thought to hold as the 2019 summer conference programme came to a close.
Spotlight on the campus experience
Launched at the conference, CUBO's new Campus Experience Survey shows that UK universities are investing millions in their campuses over the next five years. As universities await the Government's response to the Augar Review, amid intensified competition for funding since the lifting of the cap on student numbers, investment in buildings and services is seen as critically important to attract new students.
So the chance to tour Swansea University's Bay Campus was opportune. Bay Campus opened in 2015 and has seen new buildings open in every year since. Head of Estates Projects, Fiona Nixon, introduced the Active Classroom, which generates more energy than it uses, the recently opened £32.5m Computation Foundry building and the new International College Wales Swansea building ("the College"), which creates a smart and relaxed welcome for students on international pathway programmes.
Find out how universities across the country are investing and how they rate aspects of their campus in the full report.
Exhibition & Networking
Catching up with colleagues from universities and suppliers is at the heart of the CUBO conference. The busy exhibition marquee was an excellent source of solutions from over 40 CUBO corporate partners, and the place to build relationships and discuss current sector issues and needs. There was more networking at the Social Night at the National Waterfront Museum, sponsored by Glide, which included a Welsh pop quiz, rugby simulator and Welsh whisky tasting.
2019 CUBO Awards
The CUBO Awards took place on 4th July in the Great Hall, following cocktails on a terrace overlooking Swansea Bay. Once again, CUBO recognised excellent campus experiences across services ranging from catering and housing to retail and sport. A Welsh male voice choir set the mood and rugby legend and TV presenter Jonathan Davies OBE entertained and moved guests with his story of the local lad who became a global sports star. A special thanks to the awards sponsors: Unite, UPP, TUCO, Collegiate and Conference News, and to Derwent FM for sponsoring the pre-dinner drinks reception.