In South Korea for CELE 2012

by Alexandra den Heijer

Six months ago I got an invitation to speak at a OECD-CELE conference in Seoul (June 18-20, 2012). This week I feel blessed and honoured to be in Seoul for my lecture and for exchanging knowledge about the university campus. CELE 2012 is the 3rd conference in the series “Higher Education Space and Places: for learning, innovation and knowledge exchange”. CELE is the Centre for Effective Learning Environments. This year’s conference “Enhancing university competitiveness through educational facilities” is organised by OECD/CELE in co-operation with the Korean Educational Development Institute (EDUMAC – KEDI)*. The conference website: CELE 2012

official photo of all speakers and hosts of CELE 2012 (source: MEST-KEDI-CELE)

The conference brings together those who lead, manage and design the world’s university facilities to address 4 themes: (I) Ensuring quality facilities; (II) Facility design and green campuses; (III) The role of public private partnerships; and (IV) Efficient facility management systems. My contribution is part of plenary session IV – the hand-out can be found under DOWNLOADS.

After one day I was already amazed by the similarities in approaches, even though representatives from 20 different countries are attending this conference, inclusing Indonesia, Mongolia, Singapore, Japan and China.

Lessons so far:
– (from various speakers) it surprised me that both South Korea and Japan are facing decreasing student numbers in the near future – due to demographic developments – their strategies to make better use of existing space and to share facilities are very similar to ours (Netherlands/Europe)
– (from Akademiska Hus, Sweden) – a 2011 questionnaire among more than 1000 students showed that there is a correlation between time spent on campus and student success – this also emphasizes the importance of “creating a home away from home for students” – Ingrid Gustavsson also pointed out the importance of non-academic functions to our (= North-West Europe) traditionally monofunctional campuses
– (from Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia) – to highligh the university’s importance for the knowledge economy they made a knowledge development path, tracking how research and alumni influenced other developments – I also liked the fact that they are no longer building for faculties or divisions, but more for shared use
– (from Alastair Blyth, OECD-CELE) – the importance of social spaces was underlined again, with interesting examples of small buildings connecting (and bringing new life to) mono-functional buildings from the 60s and 70s
– the discussion (that followed) about distant learning and creating a social place to meet forms an interesting paradox – students should have a reason to go to campus, otherwise there will be no-one to socialize with

our plenary session IV – discussions about space charging, barriers for FM, the changing academic workplace, how to involve future users (instead of the current) and more… session IV featuring: Yeon Woong Jung (Korea), Fukuei Saito (Japan), Alexandra den Heijer (Netherlands) and Graham Roddick (Scotland)

– (from Graham Roddick, Scotland) – in the UK the concept public-private-partnership (PPP) is critically evaluated – PPP is suitable for residences (student housing) because that is a standardized product – for complex university buildings it is very different, also due to the uncertainties in demand
– (from Graham Roddick, Scotland) – the focus should shift from capital costs to life cycle costs (capital costs are only a small percentage – estimated 5-10% – of the life cycle costs)
– (from Richard Yelland, OECD-CELE) – ranking universities is a fact: there also is a U-multirank tool, which can rank universities depending on user criteria – see website for more info
– (from Jaepil Choi, Seoul National University, South Korea) – the quality of the facilities should be part of rankings; then universities will pay more attention and invest more – Graham Roddick notes that students can easily share their thought about the quality of facilities through social media like Facebook now…

… and the same goes for thoughts about conferences, like I do with this blog. I really enjoyed this conference and have a new network that I cherish. I compliment the South Korean organisation for their very efficient and effective work. I will spread the word…

For my presentation: see DOWNLOADS.

* EDUMAC is part of KEDI and is the Educational Facilities Research and Management Centre: see EDUMAC website.

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The photo above was taken at Ewha Womans University (building ECC). ECC’s Architect is Dominique Perrault (DPA). Since it was open for the students in 2008 it has received many awards. Personally I was struck by the scale of the public space, which even looks larger because of the slope at the end.

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