Helping commercial and campus services professionals successfully navigate the impact of Covid19 was the clear focus of the recent CUBO Winter Conference, as well as sharing learnings and best practice taken from what has been an extraordinary year in 2020.
Over 225 CUBO (College and University Business Officers) delegates and business partners joined forces at CUBO’s first virtual Winter Conference, (1-4 December 2020) under the theme of Protect, Connect, Recover. Across the 18 conference sessions there were over 650 attendees, with each attending an average of three sessions.
During the conference there was plenty of food for thought for delegates, from the likely scenarios impacting higher education post-Brexit to the innovative ways in which university teams have risen to the challenges of the last nine months. The importance of sharing good practice was a key takeaway.
Many speakers described Covid19 as a catalyst for new initiatives, partnerships and ways of working. Certainly, universities are now more aware of how commercial services bring life to the campus and the student experience as well as generating income.
Existing trends such as digitalisation, grab and go and healthy eating have been amplified, while some permanent changes are likely in teaching, working life and conferencing.
Jo Hardman, CUBO Chair and Head of Commercial Services at Lancaster University, said: “Everyone in campus services has done incredible work this year. In a year’s time when we can meet in person, we will be able to see the further development of where we are taking services.”
Phil Scott, CUBO Board Director, added: “We need to ride the crest of the wave. The focus has been on us in commercial services, the challenge going forward is to maintain that level of profile and ensure we get the right level of funding.”
One of the conference sessions led by Anne-May Janssen, Head of European Engagement, UUK International, looked at the particularly relevant topic of Brexit and what happens next…. She highlighted how UUKi is calling for a dedicated immigration route for EU students needing short-term study and work placements, drawing particular attention to the fact that the current plans for the student route are too expensive, and suggested this will deter students. She reinforced that as temporary solution, the government should make it more affordable and drop the off-putting language requirement.
As part of the conference, CUBO also hosted its first virtual awards ceremony, where ten CUBO members were recognised and rewarded for their outstanding achievements in commercial and campus services at universities across the UK. Over 65 nominees and board members participating via Zoom and with over 500 virtual views.