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Few cities have risen and fallen on the economic tides in quite the same way as our host city for AUDE23, Liverpool. A successful international trading port, like others involved in the slave trade it has had to acknowledge and reconcile this complex and uneasy element of its history. Growing fast in the 18th century, Liverpool established a reputation as a leading commercial hub, with infrastructure to match. By Victorian times it was ‘the second city of the empire’, with a terminal station for the world’s first intercity railway. Its status as a keystone in British trade made it a target of German air-raids in World War Two. But by the 1980s, the economic tide had turned, and for decades the city became known for its high levels of unemployment as much as for its excellence in the fields of sport and entertainment. In the third decade of this century, Liverpool is a cultural and tourist mecca, high in diversity, resilient in nature and ready to ride the next waves in the endless economic cycle.
Syd Cottle (Director of Estate Management at the University of Liverpool), AUDE Executive Director Jane White and the whole AUDE team are ready to welcome members and guests to AUDE23 – ‘Our place in the world’– from 3 to 6 April 2023.
How are we faring at this stage of the economic ebb and flow? Liverpool as a city has experienced extremes of growth and decline. But where is your institution in the economic cycle, and how confident are you that its position is secure? As universities we know about economic tides, and as estates leaders we know about the effects on our campuses of macroeconomics. Our cycles include everything from our ability to attract international students or research funding, to our reliance on the logistical efficiency of the world’s shipping, or the straightforward and affordable manufacture of construction materials from countries at every compass point.
As a sector we have proven time and time again to be innovative, ambitious and highly resilient in a world that seems increasingly ‘VUCA’ - volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. What is your place, and the place of your institution, amidst such complication? How do we respond to the increasing internationalisation of the higher education market? By aligning ourselves to the digital and sustainability agendas as two of our biggest ‘givens’? By an increased focus on the needs of our students as our safest guide into a confusing future? As increasingly committed, active and powerful players within our local regions?
And in a city that knows more than many about the vagaries of reputation, how do we ensure that our voice as estates professionals remains trustworthy, credible and deserving of a place at the top institutional table and beyond?
Let’s think about our place in the world. Liverpool. AUDE23.
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