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An institution's attractiveness to students and staff, its operational efficiency and its longer-term sustainability are all influenced by the quality and capacity of its physical estate and related infrastructure.


Fundamental decisions about an institution's physical estate frequently involve major strategic decisions, and require significant amounts of capital expenditure. As the governing body is responsible for 'all matters of fundamental concern' it is generally involved in making these decisions.

The detailed work on estate matters may, in some institutions, be undertaken by a board committee. This might be an Estates or Planning and Resources committee, or alternatively, the Finance and Resources or Finance and General Purposes committee. Where such committees exist, they will work with delegated authority, and report and make recommendations to the governing body.

On occasions the governing body may decide to set up a project group to oversee the strategic development of the institution's estate, including, for example, in cases where a new campus is being proposed.

Additional resources

Briefing Note 19: Estates

The provider’s estate typically consumes significant amounts of capital expenditure, and forms the large non-pay item in most provider’s revenue budgets. Capital expenditure to maintain or improve the asset base, plays an important role in attracting staff and students to a provider. A provider’s estate, its built environment, is an area of ‘fundamental concern’ to the governing body and one where it is expected to take all final decisions.
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Getting to Grips Guide

The Getting to Grips guides provide a comprehensive introduction and overview of key areas of higher education and the responsibilities of governors. Getting to Grips guides available to Advance HE Members only.

The Getting to Grips Guide, 'Estates and Infrastructure', offers governors with additional information:
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Good practice guidance

The Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) published Estates Strategy Good Practice Guidance 2013. This offers a 'simplified good practice guide' to the development of an estates strategy for their members.

AUDE produces an annual HE Estates Statistical Report, which includes trend data.
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Statistical information

The Higher Education Statistical Agency collates information submitted in their annual Estates Management Statistics (EMS) return by institutions. The information is used by HESA to publish the annual Estates Management Record for Higher Education Providers. This includes comparative data allowing institutions to make peer comparisons and undertake benchmarking.

Find out more from HESA

Find out more about governing bodies and their committees

Governing bodies