The last few years have been tough for the universities and the higher education sector as a whole. Political events such as Brexit, austerity, and a fluctuating economy has put traditional revenue streams and external funding at risk. In addition, high fees, increased cost of student living and, more recently, the global pandemic has also led to the potential risk of reduced student numbers; adding to the uncertainty and pressure.
It means a growing necessity for innovation and creative ways to better utilise expertise and resources. In this article, we offer six ways that these can provide opportunities for universities to generate new, growing and sustainable revenue streams now and into the future.
Creating the link between faculty expertise and the private sector, through schemes such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) and consultative services, a proactive commercial services team can play an ever-more important role in the financial development of a university. A dedicated department that’s focused on business development and finding new commercial opportunities and partnerships that can yield long-term sustainable income.
Professional training courses offered to the general public, private sector or industry bodies. Skills training, Continual Professional Development (CPD) and sector specific learning is a growing and potentially lucrative sector and universities have the knowledge and the facilities to offer these services, as long as they have the right tools such as course booking and management systems in place.
Conferencing & Events
It may have been devastated by the pandemic, but these will be services required again in the future. To maximise the revenue opportunities, universities will need to be able to actively promote and then create an efficient user experience for staff and visitors, from sign-up to event management.
Non-Term Accommodation Rental
With universities having to invest in quality accommodation to remain competitive with new students, it creates an opportunity to utilise these rooms when the students are not there. Getting occupancy into these rooms in the off-term can be an effective utilisation of space and resources; whether for tourism, linking up with local events in the area or overnight business stays.
Rental of Meeting Rooms and Facilities
In a similar vein, universities will have many hundreds of different rooms, halls and similar facilities that spend a significant proportion of their time empty. Are they able to become additional revenue generators by offering them up to the public for hire? With more and more businesses moving away from fixed office space, the need for temporary and flexible meeting space is likely to grow in the coming years.
Sports, Camps and Activities
From 3G football, rugby and hockey pitches, to gym space, tennis courts and other sporting facilities, making it easy to managing bookings to the public when not in use academically can offer further opportunities, utilising the resources a university will already have. Furthermore, with parents always on the lookout for activities for their kids in school holidays, a university campus seems to be a perfect space to run camps, classes and activities while the students aren’t around.
Universities have natural resources that can and should be able to generate a sustained level of revenue via commercial avenues. The talented minds to be able to innovate, create and turn these into commercially viable outlets will undoubtedly exist among university staff up and down the land. However, to make it a success, there needs to be the will to actually do it, and an investment in the tools to make each initiative a success.
Ensuring you have the right software and systems in place, from a booking platform that makes it easy for users and removes admin need from staff, to effective tools to set-up and manage the products and services is a vital ingredient in long-term success. This means a system that not only helps you attract and retain custom, but also does the heavy lifting operationally, removing arduous admin to maximise the returns on investment and revenue. And, a system that’s scalable and able to expand to meet new opportunities that come up on campus in the future.
At thinkBooker, we specialise in online booking systems for training courses, classes, activities and events – optimised for efficiency, growth and ongoing client satisfaction.