A Guide to Facilities Management For Higher Education Institutions

From robust academic opportunities to its unique personality and on-campus culture, many factors go into making a college or university successful. 

Roughly 18 million students are enrolled in U.S. colleges, and these institutions are focused on attracting and retaining students. One crucial part of this, which may often be overlooked by students, is how well the school’s facilities operate.

Some campuses have thousands of people on the grounds and walking their spaces daily, but how does the school maintain its appearance, safety, and efficiency? How committed is the institution to the health, safety, and well-being of its students? 

Facilities Management is the solution to these questions, playing a behind-the-scenes role in ensuring that the higher education institute runs smoothly.

Understanding the Role of Facilities Management (FM)

While Facility or Facilities Management (FM) largely supports infrastructure, it ultimately supports people. As defined by the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA): 

“FM ensures the functionality, comfort, safety, sustainability, and efficiency of the built environment – the buildings we live and work in and their surrounding infrastructure. It is an organizational function which integrates people, place, and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business.”

Whether it’s managing the physical environment and its structural systems like HVAC, plumbing, lighting, and electricity or overseeing compliance and building safety, FM ensures that the campus and all its components function properly, work together cohesively, and fulfill their intended purpose. When an educational facility is managed correctly, inhabitants remain safe and protected, and productivity is supported.

The Key Components of Facilities Management at a College or University

For a higher education institute to remain attractive to prospective new students, it must maintain its standards and uphold its reputation. FM plays a critical role in achieving these goals.  

Every higher education institution has unique operational needs depending on its size, location, and scope, however the ultimate FM objective is to create and maintain safe, productive, and positive environments for students, faculty, and guests. 

Common FM responsibilities include:

  • Property strategy 
  • Space management (optimizing and maximizing space layouts)
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • General building maintenance and repairs
  • Proactive maintenance strategies
  • Emergency response and repairs
  • Security and safety protocols
  • Contribute to operational efficiencies
  • Manage risks 
  • Oversee and reduce environmental impact
  • Leverage technological solutions
  • Guarantee compliance of health, safety, and environmental regulations  
  • Manage real estate and occupancy 
  • Contract management 
  • Managing renovations and refurbishments

Benefits of FM For Higher Education Institutions

The overall well-being and functioning of an entire facility is contingent upon proper management. The COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the necessity of organizations across all sectors to make health and safety a top priority, making FM a crucial part of every organization. 

Additionally, research shows that both students and faculty thrive and are more productive in a well-maintained and clean environment.

Other benefits of having resources dedicated to FM include:

  • Ensures the safety, comfort, well-being, and functionality of the people inhabiting, visiting, and working at the campus
  • Contributes to operational efficiencies
  • Provides proactive planning and responses to everyday challenges 
  • Plans and delivers infrastructure needs to support productivity
  • Manages risks including those to facilities, employees, suppliers, and business reputation
  • Oversees environmental impact and promote sustainability efforts
  • Guarantees legal compliance
  • Responds to emergencies 
  • Supervision of teams 

According to the IFMA, “Facility Managers are the people who make sure we have the safest and best experience possible, by coordinating the processes that make the built environment succeed.

Should Your Institution Outsource FM? 

Depending on the size and scope of the facility, many higher education institutions opt to hire an outside FM company. While outsourcing your needs will still involve some in-house management, there are many advantages including cost savings, access to highly specialized skills, less risk, more flexibility, and having a dedicated team with comprehensive oversight of the facility.

Experts in the field will allow your educational institution to adapt to challenges, provide recommendations for efficiencies, and be fully committed to upholding your school’s reputation. FM experts can provide insights that will help schools make better decisions, optimize the use of their resources, and provide cost-efficient recommendations.

Facilities management at your college or university require resources and commitment, and FM specialists are trained to understand, manage, and respond to all necessary needs.

Partner with ABS / CBS to Uphold Your School’s Image & Excellence!

Operating a college or university efficiently is no easy task, and cannot be accomplished without the proper Facilities Management team in place. 

Here at ABS/CBS, we have over 50 years of helping higher education institutions operate their facilities successfully, thus contributing to consistent enrollment and student retention.  We have a longstanding record of high-level facility management operations that save schools money, offer peace of mind, and contribute to the student experience. 

We’ll ensure that your school operates successfully while you stay focused on the biggest tasks at hand— educating your students and preparing them for the future!

Contact us at 845-656-7748 or click here to set up free consultation.


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