As the value of working together to find solutions in a time of crisis became rapidly evident in 2020, College and University Business Officers (CUBO) has reported a 12% growth in institutional membership.
In the same period, individual membership more than doubled from 300 to over 650, giving CUBO a highly engaged and inclusive community of campus and commercial services professionals working in HE and FE across the UK and Ireland.
Commenting on the uplift in membership, Jo Hardman, Chair of CUBO and Director of Commercial Services at Lancaster University, said the sector has faced challenges the like of which have never been seen before, which had the effect of bringing everyone together fast. He says:
“Undoubtedly, the power of a collaborative and shared approach has delivered real value to members through the last year.
“We believe the growth in institutional membership has been driven by the need to connect to understand what others are doing, to be consistent as a sector where possible, and learn from experiences of others and how they overcome specific challenges. This knowledge sharing has extended to cooperation with other associations to pool as many resources and as much learning as possible.
“The growth in individual membership is also driven by our new membership strategy, fast-tracked in 2020 due to the pandemic, which offers increased value for institutions by enabling all interested staff to sign up to CUBO and quickly access and share information, guidance and support during this exceptional period”.
CUBO adapted swiftly at the beginning of the pandemic by switching to virtual networking through round tables and focussed opportunities via special interest groups, which further boosted member numbers. Between May and December 2020, the association ran 49 free online networking events with over 1600 registrations.
Its online forum tripled in activity over the previous year and became a busy source of advice and support, while a bank of Covid19 resources was provided online, including links to key information sources and best practice templates from members and partners.
While providing as much opportunity as possible for members to access information and support, CUBO also became active in the policy debate, liaising with relevant Government departments to ensure fast distribution of the latest information across the member community and input into developing policy.
“2020 has been an extraordinary year and the challenges will continue in 2021 and for the foreseeable future. As a community with shared goals and challenges, there is no doubt that together we are stronger, and this forward thinking and open approach has proven valuable, even vital, in many cases.
“We have extended our services to FE colleges and other HE institutions in order to help the sector further and to enrich the sharing and learning that CUBO can offer during this time”.