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  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Space and student numbers
  • Institutional sustainability
  • Space efficiency
  • Condition and functional suitability
  • Environmental performance
  • Residential ratios
  • EMS case studies
  • Technical notes and guide for interpretation and replication of results
  • Annex A
  • Glossary and abbreviations

Executive summary


1. This publication reports on the findings of the Estate Management Statistics Service (EMS) during 2009-10 for the 2008-09 financial year.

2. Wherever possible, this report looks at major trends across the sector over the last 10 years (1999-2000 to 2008-09). The measures in this report were chosen to align with HEFCE's Capital Investment Framework, the method HEFCE uses to assess the way universities and colleges approach capital investment.

3. The report also includes case studies from five higher education institutions that have shown the greatest improvement over four key measures:

  • building condition % gross internal area (GIA) condition A and B (C13 – non-residential)
  • functional suitability % GIA grade 1 and 2 (C13 – non-residential)
  • GIA (C13 – non-residential) per student and staff full-time equivalent (FTE)
  • energy consumption per student and staff FTE (non-residential).

4. To add richness and an additional dimension to the analysis we have also included analysis by country over the last five years in Annex A.

Key points

5. This report focuses on the performance in UK higher education estates over the last 10 years. From this analysis it is clear that, overall, the UK's higher education estate is now far better placed to withstand the effects of significant change than it was 10 years ago.

6. Non-residential income per m2 GIA has risen at an increasing rate over the last 10 years, while at the same time the proportion of institutions' income spent on estates has fallen from 10.9 per cent to 9.4 per cent. This increases institutions' profitability and is despite above-inflation cost increases in some elements of property cost, such as utilities which has increased by a factor of nearly four.

7. The last 10 years have witnessed unprecedented capital investment in the UK higher education estate and for the last seven years, the average ratio of total maintenance costs plus capital expenditure to Insurance Replacement Value (IRV) has remained above the 4.5 per cent threshold suggested by JM Consulting in their 2006 report on capital funding . This has resulted in major improvements to the quality of the estate, such as:

  • the average (median) percentage of space in good condition has increased from 63 per cent to 76 per cent between 1999 and 2009
  • the average (median) percentage of space deemed functionally suitable has risen from 66 per cent to 83 per cent between 1999 and 2009
  • the average (median) backlog affordability score, which measures the number of times an institution’s repair backlog is covered by its total income, has risen from 6.6 to 9.0 between 1999 and 2009.

8. Overall, space is being more efficiently used than it was 10 years ago, as evidenced by the highest-level indicator of space (GIA) per student and staff FTE which has gone down from 9.6 m2 to 8.8 m2 per person.

9. However, this period has also witnessed rapid growth in student numbers and an average (median) 8.3 per cent decline in the number of students would reverse this improvement.

10. In addition, little progress has been made in terms of bringing the amount of academic office space in line with the norms found in other sectors.

11. With the exception of notional CO2 measures, which have not been included in this report due to an inconsistent time series owing to changes in methodology, environmental performance has seen an improvement over the last 10 years against all key metrics. However, the sector will need to go much further in reducing energy consumption if it is to meet emissions targets for 2020 and 2050.

Action required

12. No immediate action is required of institutions in response to this report. But 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 strategies and operational plans.


  1. That is to say, the two higher grades of the four used by EMS to classify condition.
  2. These codes, used throughout this report, relate to EMS definitions. For more information see
  3. That is to say, the two higher grades of the four used by EMS to classify functional suitability.
  4. 'Future needs for capital funding in higher education: A review of the future of SRIF and learning and teaching capital'. Report to HEFCE by JM Consulting (September 2006).

Date: 1 June 2011

Ref: HEFCE 2011/17

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Strategic planning, Finance, Estates

Enquiries should be directed to:

Andrew Smith at HEFCE, tel 0117 931 7001, e-mail

Derek Horsburgh at SFC, tel 0131 3136649, e-mail

Chris Cowburn at HEFCW, tel 02920 682247, e-mail

Billy Lyttle at DEL, tel 02890 257408, e-mail