The Australian tertiary education sector is one of the nation’s largest exports, generating close to $30 billion in export income. The sector also employs more than 250,000 people and has more than four million enrolments. Tertiary education plays a significant role in society and culture, and it was a sector hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with estimates of the 2020 loss of international student income as high as $4 billion.
Throughout history, pandemics have forced humans to imagine their world differently. For the higher education sector, COVID-19 meant there was a global shift in how staff taught and how students learned.
Shift to online learning accelerated by the pandemic
Prior to 2020 to meet the needs of growing student populations and campuses, higher education institutions concentrated heavily on creating spatial experiences to enhance learning environments for students and teachers. These educational spaces and surroundings brought students, teachers and academics together in the interest of knowledge and helped them to feel inspired, comfortable and safe, focusing on their wellbeing, engagement and performance.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to online learning, launching live streaming of lectures and online class tutorials. The shift to largely online learning had a massive impact on budgets, where once prized and sought-after assets like classrooms, lecture theatres and research labs sat largely unused but still cost providers money in maintenance and upkeep until the time when students would eventually return.
It’s time to redefine, repurpose, and redesign university spaces
Now that time has come but the pandemic’s effects still linger. Today, having a balanced, blended learning arrangement is expected of education institutions. This new normal involves learning beyond the confines of traditional teaching spaces, structures and material resources, pushing providers to re-evaluate how to shape the use of existing physical spaces and assets. Existing areas in universities need to be repurposed and new buildings will need a different approach to design and purpose, providing spaces that prioritise community, cost-efficiency and sustainability.
A considerable amount of capital funds is spent to create and update various university assets to deliver ergonomic and state-of-the-art learning environments to students, and superior teaching, training and administrative facilities to staff. Projects include upgrading or creating common learning facilities, creating and upgrading campus buildings, and most importantly in today’s post-COVID environment, investing in digital infrastructure to support the rising demand for blended learning and even virtual support services.
Portfolio, program, and project management made easy with asset management software
In order to know how to best utilise assets and direct budgets, universities need to be able to effectively prioritise and optimise their strategic approach by engaging in effective portfolio, program, and project management.
In many higher education institutions portfolio, program, and project management is a standalone process, usually utilising third-party solutions or Excel spreadsheets. This can result in siloed, disparate, and isolated systems and processes that lead to data duplication across multiple systems, manual processes, poor visibility, and clarity of asset performance, risk, timelines, and issues. It can also lead to delayed or lack of integration with project financial activity, which can result in poor budgeting, estimation, forecasting, and actual cost tracking.
Using software like TechnologyOne’s Project Lifecycle Management, embedded and integrated with other business processes such as Financials, Contracts, Human Resources & Payroll, and more, can help campus asset managers, project management officers, financials officers and contract managers to manage portfolios, programs and projects more effectively by creating a single source of truth for all related information. It makes managing assets simple with streamlined processes and the ability to operate more efficiently through end-to-end management of university operations.
Portfolio, program, and project management software can help identify capital initiatives and prioritise their delivery aligned with organisational objectives and strategies optimised against available funding. Project costs, risks and timelines are also able to be managed and controlled thanks to a unified view of all portfolio, program, and project information.
“Higher education institutions want their students and staff to have a great experience and learn the things they need to learn without having to worry about back-end technology. The accelerated evolution to hybrid learning in higher education required a shift in budget allocation to transform already existing spaces and build new ones to allow for collaborative and secure environments, and smart, flexible spaces that can be adapted to suit different needs and tasks. All the while ensuring students and staff could continue their lessons as usual,” said Peter Nikoletatos, Industry General Manager for Education at TechnologyOne.
Overall, effective asset management is crucial for higher education institutions to optimise the use of resources, ensure compliance, support planning and budgeting, manage risks, and promote sustainability.
TechnologyOne’s Enterprise Asset Management allows you to make informed, evidence-based asset investment decisions with rich, comprehensive data insights to guide you. Using spreadsheets for portfolio, program and project management is like a puzzle, a piece goes missing and you don’t get the full picture. To make sure you can see the full picture of your assets, visit here for more information.