Here we are at the start of the new academic year and even before the majority of students have arrived, we’re very aware of just how busy our connect2 customers are. In fact many have been toiling away most of the summer, setting up new equipment stores, and moving or merging existing ones. Over a quarter of our customers have either undertaken such projects since students departed at the end of last term, or are in the middle of organising such moves, giving them little time to enjoy other summer pursuits.
But why so many recent projects? For many, running an organised inventory and loan operation has meant their expertise is now needed by their institution on a wider scale with more stores and resources to manage. For others, efficiency or service initiatives have required the merging of operations and a rationalisation of the services offered from different points. Throughout these projects, we stay close to our customers, providing much-needed support in setting up new loan operations via the connect2 software with import tools to process new equipment and facilitate service expansion.
Lifting of the cap – outcome for creative arts departments
For some universities, exciting new buildings have required a department-wide move. Once the removal of the student recruitment cap was announced by the UK Government in 2013, campuses have been embarking on new building works; but now institutions are beginning to enjoy the new facilities provided and are able to welcome students in greater numbers. Undergraduate intake is up by 3% this year according to UCAS (final numbers will be available in January). This is the increase across all subjects, with creative arts and design courses aligning roughly with this trend.
Speaking with a number of our customers based in these departments, we’ve noted just how volatile student intake levels can be from year to year though, and with marked differences between institutions. While some are seeing substantial increases in numbers which are way beyond the average 3%, other universities are tending to break even across their arts and design courses. Meanwhile, some arts departments are seeing a dip, with numbers peaking dramatically last academic year as the cap began to be lifted. So we’re certainly not seeing an even trend of growth when you look at what’s happening at the institution level. It leads staff to require a great deal of flexibility on how they manage student resources and organise their access, and this is where connect2 plays such an important role.
Working with an increase in students
At Oxford Brookes University, recruitment has tripled this year for digital media courses – the biggest increase we’ve come across! Some restructuring is improving resource support for students, with the media store being relocated from the computing to the arts department, and some studios also being relocated. The connect2 booking system has been developed to manage resources across different sites, with clear signposting to ensure students understand where each piece of equipment or room is located. Joe Carr, Technical Instructor in Media Technology at Oxford Brookes comments:
“One of the key things for connect2 for me is that it is a weight off your mind. With the way it’s designed, it should look after everything for you, no matter how many students you have. If you have high intake and limited resources, it's a simple "first booked first served" system so even if you do feel your resources aren't enough this year, the connect2 system will allow the students to make the most of them in any situation.”
We wish our connect2 customers all the best as they finish their preparations for the arrival of students and the beginning of freshers’ week. Keep in touch and let us know how you get on!