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Performance in higher education estates: EMS annual report 2009

April 2010 | ref: 2010/04


Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions, Heads of universities in Northern Ireland
Heads of SFC-funded higher education institutions
Heads of HEFCW-funded higher education institutions

Of interest to those responsible for:

Strategic planning, Finance, Estates

This publication reports on the progress and findings of Estate Management Statistics (EMS) during 2008. EMS shares estates information among UK higher education institutions and empowers institutions to improve management of the physical infrastructure. The report highlights four different aspects of estates performance.


  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • The size of the sector
  • Cost and income analysis
  • Space management
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Condition and repair
  • Annex A Glossary and abbreviations

Executive summary


1. This publication reports on the findings of the Estate Management Statistics Service (EMS) during 2008-09 for the 2007-08 financial year. It focuses on:

  • the changing profile of the UK higher education estate over a five-year period between 2003-04 and 2007-08
  • trends over this period with particular emphasis on space.

2. We recommend that senior management teams and estates committees consider this report in the context of their estates and use EMS to assist them in developing their strategies and operational planning.

Key points

Cost and income analysis

3. The level of income coming into the sector has increased over the five-year period 2003-04 to 2007-08, up 41.6 per cent to £23.3 billion in 2007-08. Expenditure also increased over the period but at a slower rate, up 38.3 per cent.

4. Total property costs per student full-time equivalent (FTE) in the UK rose by 16.5 per cent over the period 2003-04 to 2007-08 with inflation over a similar period (as measured by the retail price index) up 18.5 per cent. Whereas the distribution of total property cost per m2 showed relative consistency year-on-year, the variability across the institutions for total property cost per student FTE has increased significantly. In 2003-04 the inter-quartile range was £659 per student and in the most recent update period this had increased to £821 per student FTE.

5. Progress has been made since 2003-04 in relation to higher education institutions’ ability to meet their backlog maintenance liabilities. Relative to institutional income, backlog liabilities are now at their lowest level for five years.

Space management

6. The size of the UK higher education estate increased by approximately 6 per cent between 2003-04 and 2007-08, from 24.4 million m2 to 25.9 million m2 of gross internal area (GIA) while FTE student numbers increased by 7.3 per cent.

7. The total amount of non-residential space per student FTE has remained relatively constant over the five-year period, with growth in FTE numbers slightly exceeding the expansion of space. The trend has seen a reduction from 7.9 m2 per student in 2003-04 to 7.7 m2 in 2007-08.

8. The median amount of core teaching space per student has reduced by 9.7 per cent over the five-year period but despite this the remaining teaching space is being used less intensively, perhaps indicating a shift to new approaches to teaching and a move to more flexible spaces.

9. Academic office provision per academic staff FTE has increased by 2 per cent over the five-year period to a median figure of 13.6 m2 per academic staff FTE, while office space provision for support staff has fallen by 6 per cent to 13 m2. The rise in the provision of academic office provision is at odds with the general trend towards more intensive use of space. Comparisons with other sectors, contained in the report, suggest that there is potential for greater efficiency in the use of space.

Environmental sustainability

10. The median energy consumption per student FTE fell by 3.9 per cent between 2003-04 and 2007-08. Up until 2006-07 there had been a steady decrease in the energy consumption per FTE, reaching a low of 3,423 kWh per student FTE. For 2007-08, however, the trend changed, with levels of consumption increasing by 4 per cent. Energy consumption figures from one year to the next are affected by the weather and in particular temperature variations; we will be exploring how EMS data can be adjusted for this in the future.

11. Notional energy emissions per FTE follow the overall energy consumption trend, with a reduction overall, down 4.1 per cent relative to 2003-04; however, in 2007-08 carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose more than the increase in energy use. This variation was caused by changes in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs rates for conversion of energy use to CO2 emissions.

12. The median percentage of waste recycled in the higher education sector was 26.6 per cent for 2007-08 which represents significant improvement relative to 2003-04 when this was at 12.7 per cent.

13. Median water consumption per student FTE has fallen from 12.57 m3 per student FTE to 11.93 m3, which represents a 5.1 per cent decrease. The distribution of results also indicates that with the upper and lower quartiles at their lowest for the last five years the sector as a whole is making great strides in reducing water consumption levels per student FTE.

Condition and repair

14. During the last five years there has been a marked improvement in the percentage of non-residential GIA in condition A and BSee note 1 (D20a). The median value has risen from 69 per cent in 2003-04 to 73.1 per cent in 2007-08. There has also been marked improvement when taking the condition by weighted GIA, with the amount of space in good condition increasing by 3.7 per cent between 2003-04 and 2007-08.

15. The functional suitability of the non-residential estate over the period 2003-04 to 2007-08 has seen a steady improvement, increasing eight percentage points.

16. A glossary of key terms and abbreviations used in this report is at Annex A.


  1. That is to say, the two higher grades of the four used by EMS to classify condition.
Enquiries should be directed to:

Andrew Smith, tel 0117 931 7001, e-mail a.smith@hefce.ac.uk

Page last updated 1 December 2011

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