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In recent months FMJ has heard how organisations across the legal, media and private banking sectors approach facilities management differently. Continuing the same theme this month we spoke to Rob Moyle, chief operating officer from Campus Living Villages to find out what is unique in the education sector

Campus Living Villages “provides an integrated approach to student accommodation with expertise in finance, design, development, project management and operations.” Basically they offer institutions of higher learning a range of options that “allow institutions to provide much needed accommodation to students without having to be involved in the cost, risk and complexity of operating and developing student facilities.” 

Headquartered in Sydney, Campus Living Villages also have offices in New Zealand, the USA and here in Britain. They provide approximately 41,000 beds worldwide and are the number one on-campus facilities provider in both Australia and New Zealand. In short, they know what they are talking about.

As does Moyle himself. Though his background is in the hotel trade he no has over seven years experience in student accommodation, the first two in his native Australia, the last five based in London. As chief operating officer he is responsible not just for Campus Living Villages’ FM provision, but their operations and business development as well.

It is Campus Living Villages’ aim to provide a “one stop shop” where they build, own and operate all the student accommodation on a campus, collating, wherever possible, things they have learned across three continents, so that people in Britain can benefit from the experiences of those people based down under or across the pond.

But what is it that they have learned? What is it that sets education apart from the usual FM remit?

First of all is the typical demographic that Campus Living Villages caters too. Far from the middle aged, suit clad professional that might frequent an office in the capital, our typical student will be between 18 and 24 years of age. Without over generalising their treatment of their surroundings will be rougher than it would be in an office environment, with the wear and tear subsequently worse.

There is of course the pressure of providing spaces, areas and resources for the broadest range of demographics imaginable. These could be ethnic differences, gender differences or just as simple as those who want a gym and those who don’t.

Similarly the students will be using the facilities 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 44 weeks of the year. This is in stark contrast to the nine-to-five remit for some FMs and has obvious consequences for service offerings, maintenance and cleaning schedules, security provision and choice of materials to name but a few issues.

Moyle says that “Campus Living Villages work with the residents. We have to be more involved than we would be in a different environment to make sure they are clean, safe and happy. That they are ready to transition to the real world.”

Obviously 18-24 year olds have vastly different priorities in what is essentially their home compared to workers who commute to an office each day. “With the massive rise in tuition fees,” Moyle explains, “the whole package is more important than ever before. Students aren’t just concerned about education when they choose their university. We have to support them in all areas.”

Obviously there will be some overlap. The internet is of course essential. I doubt anyone reading this could bare the thought of having no access to the web either at home or at work. Nevertheless Moyle describes this as “more important to them than a bed.”

But students undoubtedly want their surroundings to feel more homely than an office ordinarily would be. No matter how wacky modern, Google-inspired workplaces get. Campus Living Villages seek to provide an environment that is “fun, safe and inclusive.” They operate on extremely long life cycle costing plans, that are generally between 49 and 99 years in length. Moyle also insists on being extremely proactive with all maintenance and replacement, this can be anything from carpets and curtains through to lifts.

Another major difference of course arises when you think about security. In the normal working environment security reaches its peak during the day and tails off during the night, at least in terms of boots on the ground. At least in principle. But security in dormitories must remain tight at every hour of the day. It might even reach its peak during the hours of darkness with students returning home after a night out.

Access is essential. Dormitories cannot be open to whoever tries to get in, but nor can they be a nightmare to get into for the people who actually live there. Support needs to be present 24 hours a day, but Campus Living Villages still want their dorms to feel like a home.

Sometimes the university Campus Living Villages is working with will want other assets and buildings managed, sometimes they won’t. This is especially likely if the building is on the same campus as the dormitories and the company has to be adaptable.

As discussed, Campus Living Villages operate in four countries across three continents. They take knowledge from one country, sometimes even one site and spread it out, where applicable, as far as possible.

Moyle points out that in Australia and the United States space is far more freely available than in the UK. Land is cheaper and more freely available and campuses end up feeling more like a resort, at least to British eyes.

Similarly the temperatures in Melbourne or Sydney, Los Angeles or Miami are going to be massively higher than Newcastle or Manchester. Air conditioning and air flow systems are infinitely more important in the other three countries than they are here where heating is the priority.

About Sarah OBeirne


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