6 top hacks for end-of-tenancy inspections

This week’s blog post features Ellie Garbett, licensed ARLA letting agent, book keeper, landlord and owner of Habitat Lettings. Read Ellie’s top hacks to help take the pain away during end of tenancy inspections.

Ellie says: “We are fortunate that we haven’t had many absolute horror stories. The majority of tenants are good and leave the property as they found it. But standards of cleanliness differ. You can’t be judgemental, you just have to accept that some people will be comfortable with a lower standard of cleaning than you would be.

“Damage is always a lot easier to prove when it comes to disputes over the deposit. But it is very important to have a good inventory at the start, preferably with photographic evidence of the condition of the property.

“A failure to clean properly is not the same as ‘fair wear and tear’, and tenants need to understand that. Clear communication is essential.”

Here are Ellie’s top six tips for property rental survival.

1. Let it go – emotionally speaking

We find that there are three types of landlords:
• Portfolio landlords who view the property as a business and will see the costs of paying for cleaning or damage repair averaged out across the properties,
• Single property landlords who have proportionally more invested in that property,
• Homeowner turned landlord, a person who has previously lived in the property and is now letting it out.

The third type of landlord is the most emotionally involved with the property and will take any cleaning or damage issues personally. They can find it difficult to accept tenants’ changes.

To survive as a landlord, you have to be able to view the property as a business asset. It generally takes a couple of tenancies before this kind of landlord can let their emotional attachment go.

2. Focus on ovens, extractor fans and bathrooms

If there is a cleaning issue, it will almost always be the oven, the extractor fan or the bathroom – things you don’t necessarily see and can be easy to miss.

A grease build-up in an extractor fan or oven is a fire hazard, as is mould in a bathroom that hasn’t been ventilated regularly.

Explain to tenants clearly at the start of the tenancy that they are required to leave these clean. Take photographs. And show tenants a list of prices charged by commercial cleaners to clean ovens and kitchens.

3. Use the same decorating scheme in all properties

No matter how good your tenants’ cleaning is, it is inevitable that you will have to repaint scuffed walls and freshen up key areas such as the kitchen and living room. New paint makes a property look fresh and clean and makes it easier and quicker to re-let.

If you own multiple properties it is much simpler to use the same neutral colours through each property and keep spare tins of paint. Then when it comes to touch-ups, you will always have the correct colour paint. The same goes for carpets. Keep off-cuts, not least because of the next point —

4. Hair straighteners are the leading cause of damage to carpets

We are waiting for a return to the big hair of the 1980s so hair straighteners will go in the bin. But until then, tenants can cause a lot of damage to carpets and furniture with their heated straightening irons.

Occasionally, if the burn is not too deep, you can literally ‘shave’ the top of the carpet to remove the burnt fibres. More likely you will have to patch it by cutting out the burnt section and inserting a new piece of carpet from your stash of off-cuts (see above), sized to fit.

If this is not possible, you will have to re-carpet the room.

Checking the carpets is one of the reasons we wait until the property is completely empty before making our final inspection.

5. Ask for a higher deposit if there are pets

We tend to ask for a higher deposit if tenants have pets and the majority of people are happy with that. They understand that dogs and cats can cause damage, including scratches on floors and doors. Dogs and cats can also spread fleas through the property which then have to be eradicated by professional pest controllers, and in the worst case, they may not be fully toilet trained.

More importantly though, allergies to pet hair can be very serious and can make people severely ill. If your tenants have kept pets in the property, you will need specialist anti-allergy cleaning services and air purifiers to protect future tenants who may suffer from allergies.

6. Find a spectacularly good commercial cleaning company

A really good commercial cleaning company will have access to chemicals and techniques that are not available to the general public. They will achieve an extremely high standard of cleaning. And they will be able to deal with everything from squatters to dead bodies.

A commercial deep clean may prolong the length of time a property can go without redecorating. And specialist cleaners will carry out emergency cleaning. It’s always useful to have their contact number in your phone.

Finally, it is useful to compare the cost of a commercial clean with the cost of having a property sitting empty. A property that is not sparkling clean will fail to attract tenants, whereas a commercially cleaned property can be back on the market and let within days.

About Habitat Lettings

Habitat Lettings is a young, vibrant agency fully focused on the priorities and needs of the modern day Landlord. Unlike estate agents, their loyalties aren’t divided by dealing with property sales and mortgages. Put simply, they’re a lettings agency which offers great service both to tenants and to landlords.

Habitat Lettings is registered and accredited with major schemes and bodies relating to the property rental industry. They strive to offer a fantastic, friendly, flexible service supported by in-depth knowledge of the property rental market.

Vegan alternative to steak comes to a supermarket near you

As the barbecue season starts to heat up and the debate continues around the environmental cost of producing intensively reared red meat, two food research companies have recently launched completely vegan alternatives to minced beef and steak.

Dutch company Vivera is distributing 100 per cent plant-based steak through 400 TESCO supermarkets, produced from a combination of wheat and soy. Vivera claims that the smell, taste and bite can ‘hardly be distinguished from real steak’.

The UK launch of the product suggests that there is consumer interest in a plant-based meat alternative. A week after the product launch spokesperson Gert Jan Gombert said: “The first delivery of 40,000 has nearly sold out, with some supermarkets selling out within a day.”

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods has produced a wheat and soy-based beef burger. The beef is flavoured by ‘Heme’ an iron-containing molecule that occurs naturally in animals and plants. Heme found in nitrogen fixing nodules of leguminous plants is called leghemoglobin, and this is apparently what gives the burgers their meaty flavour and texture.

Impossible Foods’ Heme is produced from genetically engineered yeast, which is not permitted to be used in the EU. Genetically engineered foods may be allowed in the UK post-Brexit.

Decades of development

It is the emphasis on taste and texture that sets these products apart. The original plant-based alternative to meat was textured vegetable protein (TVP) or textured soy protein, developed in the 1960s by US agricultural commodities and food processing company Archer Daniels Midland. TVP is a by-product of extracting soya bean oil.

A UK meat alternative, Quorn, is produced from mycoprotein (Fusarium fungus). It was developed in the 1980s and is exported around the world. Although TVP and Quorn products can be cooked as meat substitutes, neither product looks or tastes like meat.

Pressures to find alternatives to meat

Pressures to find alternatives to meat are coming from multiple directions. Many vegetarians and vegans are seeking sources of protein, iron and vitamin B12 from new types of foods rather than supplements. They are creating a demand for products that can be cooked in a variety of ways, including in burgers.

There are also health concerns about meat and the trend for ‘clean eating’. The health risks of consuming red meat have been well documented . Consumers are increasingly looking for ‘clean labelling’ of foods where lists of ingredients are more transparent and chemical additives are reduced.

Issues of sustainability are also being raised. Impossible Foods claims that producing its Impossible Burger uses 95% less land and 74% less water than beef, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions.

Population growth creates a need for alternative foods

As the global population grows, so do the issues involved in global food production and food security. Increased competition for resources will impact on the amount of agricultural land and water available to produce food. Changes in consumer demand including a growing global middle class that can afford to eat beef, increasing numbers of vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian consumers, consumer-driven clean labelling movements, and the arguments for and against genetic modification are all issues that face today’s food scientists.

Current UK food science research

UK food scientists and researchers are studying all aspects of food production from agricultural innovations right through to consumer behaviour in dedicated food laboratories, using the latest technology.

Research into food products that use fewer resources to produce but still taste good is vital.

The Sensory Science Centre at the University of Nottingham is part of the Food Science Division. Some of the current research carried out there includes:

• crossmodal perception – how taste, aroma and texture integrate to elicit flavour perception,
• using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to understand flavour and taste signals are processed in the brain,
• investigating individual variation in perception due to genetics, age and our environment
• measuring emotional response to sensory properties of food

Taste, flavour and texture is all in the brain

Rebecca Ford, Associate Professor in Sensory and Consumer Science from the Sensory Science Centre, said: “In order for consumers to accept these alternative sources of protein in their diet, the products must delight their senses. Our research has shown the importance of the congruency in the delivery of taste, aroma and texture from food. Our sensory receptors receive information during consumption (detection) and send these signals to the brain resulting in perception.

“How our brains deal with this complex arrival of sensory information is fascinating. We see a synergistic response in brain activation when we receive sensory signals from products we are used to experiencing.

“Our brains learn what to expect regarding the taste, flavour and texture of products, such as meat, resulting in greater activation when this information is all sent to the brain at the ‘right’ time and at the ‘right’ intensity. When some of this information is missing, e.g. when the texture is ‘not quite right’, our acceptance and associated reward mechanisms are lower.

“This is why companies spend considerable time testing their products with sensory and consumer panels to measure our perception of them, as we’re yet to model how our brains integrate sensory information using instrumental techniques alone. “

The quality of food affects all of us

The Food Research Group at the University of Reading works closely with the food industry across the whole food chain, leading innovative research into sustainable and healthy food products that meet the preferences and needs of a growing population.

With its four research themes:

• food technology and engineering,
• waste valorisation,
• food chemistry,
• and food quality and consumer value

it spans the primary production of the raw materials at one end, and can take new products all the way through from processing to sensory and consumer trials, with a strong food chemistry group providing analysis and fundamental understanding throughout.

Food still has to taste great

Associate Professor Jane Parker, Associate Professor and Manager of Reading University’s Flavour Centre, said: “Food quality is of fundamental interest to us. We want a healthy diet, that is safe, nutritious and delivered with great taste, texture and appearance.

“All too often, as more healthy alternatives are developed, there is a compromise in flavour. One of our roles is to understand how to redress this balance, and to ensure that both taste and aroma are as close (or better) than the original product. No matter how healthy a product, it still has to taste great.

“The Flavour Centre draws on the research within the group and has many years’ experience working with the food industry in consultancy, training, knowledge transfer and technical service.”

Email Dr Parker at the Food Research Group here .

Food science short courses available through the AFTP

Both universities teach full undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes but there is also a range of short courses available through the AgriFood Training Partnership.

Sewage leak contaminates school play area

CleanSafe Services clean-up process minimises disruption to pupils.
Maintenance company praises CleanSafe Services for quality of clean-up job
Emergency sewage cleaning delivered by CleanSafe Services helped prevent the closure of a primary school after human waste from a water treatment plant flooded the playground.

Heavy rain led to the leak of effluent from a sewage treatment plant located in the grounds of a primary school in the North West of England.

The treatment plant was built to handle all the foul water from the school, but the rain and deep surface water combined to cause effluent from the plant to flood the children’s play area.

This was potentially a serious situation, which could have put the children’s health at risk. There was potential for them to be exposed to dangerous bacteria that can cause disease.

Lab tests for E. coli in primary school playground
Pumping station maintenance and repair company H2O Flowtech took samples of the contaminated playground surface.

The company sent swabs to be laboratory-tested for a range of bacteria including E. coli, which can be carried in raw sewage. E. coli infection can cause serious illness, including sickness and diarrhoea in vulnerable people and children. Symptoms of infection include nausea, vomiting and fever.

H2O Flowtech then brought in CleanSafe Services to safely clean and sanitise the play area and remove any sewage.

“You can’t take any chances with sewage flooding”
CleanSafe Services technician David Orriss said: “With something as important as children’s health, you can’t take any chances with sewage flooding. We are a specialist extreme cleaning company. Most cleaning companies – even commercial ones – don’t have the experience and the equipment that we have when cleaning up areas contaminated by sewage.

“Our sister company, WasteSafe Services, is a licensed waste carrier authorised to dispose of hazardous waste including raw sewage once we’ve cleaned it up.

“We work methodically to follow a process proven to clean sewage and prevent future problems. We always start with a site and risk assessment and then prepare our detailed RAMS (Risk and Method Statements).

“The process is divided into stages, including containing and removing the sewage, cleaning and sanitising, investigating the source of the problem and restoration or repairs if required. We use equipment and safe cleaning products not available to the general public.”

Paths and grounds jetwashed and spray sanitised
David Orriss and colleague Peter Sobieralski went to work raking and bagging leaves and all loose material; lifting, jetwashing and sanitising artificial grass and sanitising the ground below before replacing it; and cleaning the summer houses, swings and slides. The play areas and pathways were all jetwashed and spray sanitised.

Play area given the all-clear
After CleanSafe Services completed the sewage clean-up of the playground, further swabs were taken. The area was re-tested, this time producing a clear result with no E. coli bacteria found.

H2O Flowtech Director Mark Fielding said: “The service from CleanSafe Services has been absolutely spot-on. Working with them was fast and straight-forward from start to finish. I was impressed with the quality of the clean-up and I would definitely use them again.”

Working with CleanSafe Services
CleanSafe Services is an emergency extreme cleaning company that is always on call to deal with hazardous waste such as sewage and works closely with businesses nationwide.

Sewage leaks and spills happen in a variety of domestic and commercial situations.

CleanSafe Services works with customers including plumbing and construction firms, sewage treatment plant managers, local authorities, facilities managers, the NHS and prisons.

Sister company WasteSafe Services is classified as an upper tier waste carrier by the Environment Agency and holds registration with the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency to carry category 3 ABP waste. It is licensed to carry and dispose of hazardous waste, such as raw sewage.

Find out more about:

CleanSafe Services

H2O Flowtech

Specialist cleaning service for unattended death in property

CleanSafe Services operatives Steve Carr and Yakinie Blair showed their professionalism and compassion when called to clean a property where there had been an unattended death.

The landlord had extensive experience but he wasn’t sure where to turn when he discovered a dead body in one of his properties.

The tenant was a man in his forties who was not obviously unwell. His death was only discovered when the man’s employer telephoned his landlord to find out why he wasn’t at work.

The landlord said: “I called an ambulance, and the paramedics then contacted the police.

“The officers took the keys and sealed the property to complete their investigations. Fortunately, they also took responsibility for locating the man’s next of kin and informing them of the death, and removing the body. It had been there for two or three days.”

Deep cleaning and deodorising

Once the police had released the property and the man’s next of kin had come to remove his belongings, the landlord was able to have the property deep cleaned.

“I didn’t want a big drama, and in fact it was the funeral director who referred me to CleanSafe Services. I wanted to deal with people, rather than a huge corporate company wanting to charge silly money,” he said. “They delivered the best service.”

Steve Carr and Yakinie Blair were able to respond very quickly. The job required full cleaning and sanitising, as well as a specialist deodorising service.

“The CleanSafe Services operatives were very professional, very good to work with. They were good people,” said the landlord. “They came very quickly with all the right equipment and protective clothing.

“They told me how they were going to deal with the problem, so I knew exactly what to expect. I was able to leave them to do the work.

“Later that day they called me back to the property, so I could see what they had done. The job was perfect. We definitely recommend CleanSafe Services.”

Emergency cleaning services for Landlords

CleanSafe Services works with domestic and commercial landlords throughout the UK.

Martin Bull, CleanSafe Services Director, said: “Landlords confront a range of cleaning emergencies in the course of their day-to-day work. Unattended deaths and crime scenes frequently involve bodily fluids, which are classed as hazardous waste and must be cleaned and disposed of correctly.

“We are regularly called to dispose of waste left behind by squatters, which can include faeces and sharps.

“We also work with local authorities who help tenants with a variety of mental health problems that require specialist cleaning services, including hoarding.

“Our staff are very experienced and will always do a full risk assessment before they start work. As well as having the knowledge and skills to clean up in very difficult conditions, they are also compassionate, sensitive and respectful of the people they deal with.”

Visit CleanSafe Services or call 0800 668 1268 for a free quote.

Windsor ‘Forker’ highlights need for rapid graffiti cleaning

The actions of a determined vandal who spray painted more than 150 items of graffiti in Windsor days before the wedding of HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle highlights the need for a rapid response to graffiti cleaning.

An individual spray painted the word ‘Fork’ (a crude sexual reference) over surfaces all along the route taken by the royal party to and from Windsor Castle. Royal Borough of Windsor staff were observed trying to wash off the graffiti, but it is usually best to call in the professionals.

Professional graffiti cleaning companies have a range of solutions for removing graffiti. They take into account the types of paint or ink used to create the graffiti and the surface it is on, including stone, brickwork, plastic, or glass.

CleanSafe Services Director Martin Bull said: “Speed is essential when it comes to cleaning graffiti. The longer you leave it, the more difficult it is to remove. Paint will set, or cure, within hours and some substances will penetrate porous surfaces. It’s very important to contact a rapid response cleaning company that can attend to the graffiti incident straight away.

“We would aim to be on site within 2 – 6 hours.”

Offensive, racist or libellous graffiti must be removed quickly
If the graffiti is offensive, racist, homophobic, or libellous, it must be removed quickly or building owners and occupiers face serious reputational damage, if not legal proceedings. Owners and occupiers may be given notice from councils to remove or cover graffiti within a specified time, otherwise the council will do it themselves and recover the costs.

Rapid response graffiti cleaning companies have the correct equipment, ready to start work as soon as they are called.

Qualified CleanSafe Services technicians operate fully mobile steam-cleaning trailer units, which don’t need external electricity or water supplies. They use the latest technology for graffiti cleaning and can be mobilised to virtually any site to start cleaning immediately.

Steam cleaning prevents damage to substrate
The units use high temperature steam applied at low pressure to tackle the spray paint while doing no damage to the substrate.

If CleanSafe Services technicians are working near street telecommunications equipment or other street furniture that may contain electrical equipment, they adapt their cleaning methods to ensure that no water damage occurs to sensitive equipment. All graffiti is cleaned from these surfaces by hand.

Technicians always use the correct safety equipment when working with steam and ensure that there is no risk to the public.

Emergency paint removal service
Graffiti isn’t the only way paint is used to damage premises. When a disgruntled punter splashed emulsion paint all over a betting shop in Liverpool, CleanSafe Services techicians arrived before the paint even had time to dry.

CleanSafe Manager Stephen Savill said: “Emergency paint removal is made easier if we get the call for help straight away, as we did on this occasion.”

“We were able to wipe off some of the paint, then use a high pressure washer to clean off the shop front and pavement, without having to resort to heavy detergents.”

The whole paint removal process took four hours, leaving the betting shop spotless and clean.

Correct disposal of chemical preparations
Steam or pressure can be applied to most graffiti for effective removal. When chemical preparations are required (more likely with the application of metallic based spray paint), the teams ensure that all waste generated from this process is contained and disposed of correctly.

Often this will involve blocking off surface water drains, so no chemicals or paint can get into the drainage system and cause pollution problems.

Trained technicians only use carefully vetted chemicals to remove graffiti and they will supply all COSHH data sheets and risk assessments.

Graffiti prevention
Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to graffiti. Increased security lighting, surveillance cameras and physical barriers can be powerful deterrents to the budding graffiti artist.

So too are the latest generation of specialist anti-graffiti wall coatings. Most are sacrificial coatings, designed to be washed off when covered with graffiti. The coating keeps the substrate clean and can be reapplied multiple times if necessary. Sacrificial coatings are useful for large wall areas and are cost effective to apply.

CleanSafe Services can advise on and apply the correct surface coatings to prevent graffiti from penetrating walls and make it easier to wash off.

Heritage and listed properties
If your building is in a conservation area or is listed, it pays to contact a reputable cleaning company for advice before their services are needed. The company will perform a site assessment and advise on the most appropriate cleaning methods depending on the age of the building and the materials used in its construction.

Limestone and sandstone in particular are vulnerable to certain types of chemical cleaning preparations, which could cause permanent damage if used incorrectly.

Reputable graffiti cleaning companies will always carry out test cleaning in unobtrusive areas to ensure that sensitive or heritage building materials are not compromised.

CleanSafe Services will also liaise with councils and other organisations to get the relevant consents in place before they begin cleaning a listed building.

‘Forked off’
Graffiti writers can be persistent. West Mercia Police research indicates that perpetrators are usually male, aged between 14 and 16. Incidents usually peak during long weekends and school holidays, especially in the summer months.

A Windsor Police source said in the Daily Mail: “It is fair to say this bloke is forking us off big time because as far as we are concerned we have our work cut out already on the big day.

“We are searching for two teenage offenders who have nearly been caught on a number of occasions and we have CCTV operators going through a lot of footage.

“We have been told that if there is so much as a single ‘fork’ on the walls of Windsor Castle the Queen will blow a gasket, so we are guarding it very well”.

About CleanSafe Services
CleanSafe Services is a reactive emergency cleaning company that is part of a larger group comprising emergency waste management, pest control and legionella control services. www.cleansafeservices.co.uk

Further reading:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5723101/Windsor-hit-graffiti-pest-spray-painted-town-150-times-ahead-royal-wedding.html

JMS powered access is first choice for dockside crane maintenance

If you are maintaining the UK’s largest dockside cranes it makes sense to hire the UK’s largest powered access machines.

JMS Powered Access machines are being used exclusively to maintain dockside cranes at the DP World London Gateway Port on the River Thames Estuary.

A crane maintenance contractor is using a range of aerial platforms hired from JMS – including ultra booms and scissor lifts – to work on the cranes, which at 138 metres tall, are among the biggest in the world.

Maintaining the cranes is vital to loading and unloading operations at the port, one of the most important commercial import-export gateways in the UK.

Aerial platforms ideal for crane inspections and repairs
The powered access platforms hired from JMS have been selected to support the repair and servicing of automatic stacking cranes at the port.

Powered access platforms used in the crane maintenance operations include:

  • The JLG 1250AJP articulating boom lift, which has a working height of 40.3 metres, and a reach of 19.3 metres
  • The JLG 1350SJP telescopic boom lift, with a working height of 43.3 metres, and a particularly impressive reach of 24.38 metres
  • And the Skyjack 4632 electric scissor lift, which has a working height of 11.75 metres, and a 1.22-metre roll-out deck.
  • The aerial platforms are used to carry out structural inspections and facilitate the removal and installation of parts, including electric motors and lifting equipment.

Key benefits delivered by the mini fleet of JMS aerial platforms on site include industry-leading safety features, flexibility, and the speed and precision with which they can be operated in a live dockside environment.

Speed vital for planned and reactive crane maintenance
DP World London Gateway is a continuous high-speed operation, with average truck-turnaround time of under 40 minutes and an average container turnaround time of 20 minutes.

JMS Regional Account Manager Paul Hollands said: “With this incredible turn-around time, every minute lost when a crane or automated loading machine is out of action is a significant cost to the business.

“The cranes require planned and reactive maintenance that is fast and safe. The JMS powered access machines hired for dockside operations, meet those requirements perfectly.”

“The JLG ultra-booms are powered by low-emission diesel engines so can operate continuously, even in poor weather conditions that would prevent some other platforms from working.

“This is important because the automated stacking area of the port will only close in exceptionally adverse weather, and only for an hour or two at a time.”

Largest ultra-booms available for hire
JMS’s aerial platform hire fleet has some of the largest ultra-booms available for hire in the UK, with the JLG 1350SJP and the JLG 1250AJP being just two examples.

Both platforms are equipped with articulating jibs for fast and safe platform placement. Both also have four-wheel-drive and four-wheel-steer plus oscillating axles for superb worksite mobility, which is essential in controlled spaces like docks.

The excellent reach of both machines allows them to be placed in safe and secure locations, without disrupting ground-level operations. The JLG 1250AJP also has JLG’s QuickStick boom design, greatly reducing lift and lower speeds.

Electric scissor lifts with large platform capacity
The Skyjack 4632 battery-powered scissor lifts, the largest of Skyjack’s Conventional Series of electric scissors, are used to maintain cranes and lifting equipment taken into the port’s maintenance centre.

Their 317kg platform capacity and large working platform area, plus the roll-out deck, allows crane maintenance engineers to work up and around large pieces of equipment, carrying all the equipment and parts they need.

Meeting powered access needs with great service
Paul Hollands said: “JMS provides the right powered access machines, even for these challenging operations, and we also pride ourselves on the level of service we deliver as well.

“We will always work closely with clients, such as this one at DP World London Gateway, select the right access machines for working at height safely, effectively and sustainable, and then keep them operating in perfect condition while they are needed.”

JMS’s access platform fleet is in constant use at the highly-automated deep-sea container port and logistics hub.

As well as having record-breaking cranes, there are 60 automated stacking cranes and 180 transaction bays. The port also has the UK’s longest rail terminal and three rail-mounted gantry cranes.

JMS Powered Access Hire and Training
To find out more about ultra-boom hire and scissor lift hire options from JMS, including the powered access machines used at DP World London Gateway, call us today.

JMS also has other powered access equipment available for hire, such as tracked spider booms, and low-level access machines, including personnel masts.

If necessary, we can supply fully-trained and highly-experienced powered access operators to support your project. JMS also delivers a range of training including IPAF training, so your teams can always work safely at height.

Contact JMS Powered Access on 0845 457 0000 or email hire@jms.co.uk

Impact of Vision 2030 on university funding in KSA

Vision 2030 and the Saudi National Transformation Program 2020 represent a seismic shift in the way all Saudi universities, public and private, will be regulated, funded and governed in the future.

Vision 2030 indicates a clear commitment to privatization, as the government’s role shifts from ‘providing services to … regulating and monitoring them’.[i] In the future, the government will rely on private sector investment to acquire and deliver education services that are currently provided by the public sector. In addition, restrictive regulations and obstacles to foreign and private sector investment are being reformed to achieve this commitment.[ii]

Opportunities for partnering with private sector investors

Through the National Transformation Program 2020, government agencies are determining additional sectors suitable for privatization and identifying opportunities for partnering with the private sector, as well as ‘innovative administrative and funding approaches.’[iii] Plans for privatizing health care are already well advanced and will help to develop models which will be adapted for education provision.

The recent (16 August 2016) MoE drive to make 2,000 government schools ‘independent’ through deploying the National Transformation Program’s Independent Schools Model is an example of a privatization model in education aimed at reducing the financial burden on the government by allowing schools autonomy in administrative and financial matters.[iv] The National Transformation Program has allocated SAR 240, 000, 000 to attract private investments to finance the construction of new schools from 1437/1438 to 1441/1442.[v] Although education will remain free for pupils, the schools will have more power in management and administration, curriculum, educational activities and training for teachers. Small companies will be set up to manage the schools creating opportunities for investment in school buildings and related facilities.

Introducing non-profit companies

The Ministry of Commerce and Investment also seeks to introduce non-profit companies, which would manage education and healthcare provision, and serve as vehicles to structure and channel endowments. [vi] MOCI distinguishes non-profit companies from charitable institutions and associations thus: while charitable entities rely essentially on charitable contributions, non-profit companies would be able to exercise commercial activities and achieve financial gains, subject to these gains being reinvested by the company in the pursuit of its non-profit objectives.

The draft Non-Profit Companies Law includes education and research as charitable objectives that may be pursued by non-profit companies. The draft Non-Profit Companies Law allows non-profit companies to collect and receive donations. The third Endowments Forum organized by the Religious Endowments Committee of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry in February 2016, announced the establishment of an Endowments Authority to oversee the endowments sector.[vii]

Saudi companies such as Alkhabeer Capital have capitalized on this trend towards institutionalizing endowments and charitable work by launching an advisory service for structuring and managing awqaf assets. Alkhabeer has stated it will target educational institutions, family offices and wealthy individuals that want to establish awqaf.[viii]

It is likely that the main organizations to take advantage of the new law will be companies set up to manage groups of schools or hospitals, but it is possible that the government may wish all institutions that have sizeable endowments to move to the nonprofit company status to regularize the management of those endowments. The internal structure of the company would be managed by ‘members’, as opposed to ‘shareholders’, which may be either physical persons or corporate entities. The non-profit company would generate profit – in fact, a surplus to be reinvested – with the understanding that no part of such profit would be paid to the non-profit company’s members, directors or employees.

Increasing nongovernmental higher education institutions

One of the National Transformation Program 2020 targets for higher education is to increase the percentage of students in nongovernmental higher education from 6% to 15%. [ix] The government will invest in strategic partnerships with apprenticeship providers, new skills councils from industry and large private companies. The increase will affect private universities and bodies that offer executive education programs as more competitors enter the market, and is likely to attract private foreign companies offering paid-for education qualifications in IT, accounting and technology.

Aligning university graduates with labor market needs

Vision 2030 commits to developing an education system that contributes to the Kingdom’s economic growth and works closely with the private sector to ensure higher education outcomes are in line with the requirements of the job market.[x] This will be achieved in part through information provided by TAQAT (The National Labor Gateway) and sector councils that will determine the skills and knowledge required by each socio-economic sector. A centralized database is being developed that will track students from early childhood through to K-12 and beyond to tertiary education in order to improve ‘education planning, monitoring, evaluation and outcomes.’ [xi]  A database will also collect data on education statistics, alumni and scientific research.[xii] The National Transformation Program has allocated SAR 48,000,000 to establish a practical framework to align university graduates with labor market needs over five years from 1437.[xiii] All of this suggests a much tighter focus on outcomes, which will benefit top-achieving universities including Alfaisal University.

Vision 2030 will also require a focus on innovation in advanced technologies and entrepreneurship. By the year 2030, the government has set an ambitious goal to have at least five Saudi universities among the top 200 universities in international rankings and students achieving above international averages in global education indicators. An additional target is to increase to 800 the number of technology companies emerging from universities.

Changes to the King Abdullah Scholarship Program

The regulations for the King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP) have been reformed to better serve national priorities,[xiv] which will have an impact on the number of students able to study abroad. New regulations require that students already enrolled at a university abroad must now be in one of the world’s top 50 academic programs in their field or one of the world’s top 100 universities to qualify for the KASP. The proportion of funding permitted for Saudi Universities through MoHE contributions to scholarships and tuition fees is also likely to change this year.

Focusing on CSR

The final commitment of Vision 2030 that has a direct impact on funding non-profit universities in KSA is the focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the non-profit sector. The National Transformation Project wants more than one-third of non-profit organization’s projects to have a measurable and deep social impact by 2020.[xv] This will be achieved through creating a supportive and cooperative environment in which the sector’s institutions and government agencies can collaborate. The General Presidency of Youth Welfare has responsibility for developing sports programs, hobbies and clubs for Saudi youth. This includes a SAR 120,000,000 budget to design and deliver a strategy for university sport and physical activity, SAR 21,000,000 to establish a charitable model to fund sports facilities investments and an unspecified budget to identify, design and implement CSR opportunities for the private sector.[xvi]

Private education funding strategies

The Sixth Development Plan (1415 – 1420h) aimed to expand the Kingdom’s education provision through the participation of the private sector in opening private non-profit education institutions, including schools, colleges and universities. This led to the establishment of the General Directorate for Private Higher Education by the MoHE to grant licenses for the establishment of private universities, ensure the quality and output of the academic programs provided through the application of the quality standards set by the National Commission for Academic Accreditation and Assessment (NCAAA), and prepare regulatory statutes and executive regulations governing external investment in the field of private higher education.

The second subject of Article 1 of the MOE’s Rules for the Establishment of Educational Charities above Secondary Level states that the institution’s primary purpose must be to provide educational services above secondary level without aiming to achieve a profit, and that the growth of the institution relies on continued self-financing. This latter point, reliance on continued self-financing, will become more and more important in the governance and funding of public sector universities, as well as private ones according to Vision 2030.

Vision 2030 makes it clear that public universities in Saudi Arabia will no longer be able to rely on government funding to cover 100 per cent of their running costs, and they will have to adopt a funding strategy similar to that of the private nonprofit universities in the Kingdom.

Most top international universities rely on large endowments and fundraising campaigns to fund their educational and research activities, such as Harvard University’s endowment of $36.5bn, Yale $22.8bn, Stanford $18bn, Princeton $16bnm, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) $10bn, Cambridge $9bn and Oxford $6bn. As early as 2007, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) established its own endowment fund office (EFO) to ‘raise, invest, steward and expend funds from an array of non-governmental sources whilst encouraging the spread of a culture of philanthropy for education amongst potential beneficiaries.’ Although KFUPM receives government funding, the endowment fund is used to provide additional funds for research, student enrichment, faculty compensation and new initiatives which require immediate funding.

The KFUPM endowment fund office seeks to be in a position to ‘provide cover of up to 35% of the University’s annual budget should the situation arise where government funding was to weaken due to external factors… that would impact adversely on the quality of teaching or facilities.’

[i] Page 45, Vision 2030 (English Version) http://www.vision2030.gov.sa

[ii] ibid

[iii] Page 83, Vision 2030 (English Version) http://www.vision2030.gov.sa

[iv] Arab News, http://www.arabnews.com./node/970521/saudi-arabia 16 August 2016

[v] Page 101 Appendix: 2016 Initiatives for the National Transformation Program, http://www.vision.2030.gov.sa

[vi] Saudi Arabia: The Draft Saudi Arabian non-profit companies law, 5 May 2016, http://mondaq.com/saudiarabia/x/488884/Corporate+Governance/The+Draft+Saudi+Arabian+non+profit+companies+law

[vii] Http://saudigazette.com.sa/saudi-arabia/minister-endowments-in-total-disarray

[viii] http://www.arabnews.com/economy/news/745531

[ix] http://mondaq.com/saudiarabia/x/501512/Fiscal+monetary+policy/TransformingSaudiArabia

[x] Page 40 – 41, Vision 2030 (English Version) http://www.vision.2030.gov.sa

[xi] ibid

[xii] Page 103 Appendix: 2016 Initiatives for the National Transformation Program, http://www.vision.2030.gov.sa

[xiii] Page 101 Appendix: 2016 Initiatives for the National Transformation Program, http://www.vision.2030.gov.sa

[xiv] http://monitor.icef.com/2016/02/report-saudi-scholarship=programme-to-sharpen-focus-on-top-universities

[xv] Page 77, Vision 2030 (English Version) http://www.vision.2030.gov.sa

[xvi] Page 104 Appendix: 2016 Initiatives for the National Transformation Program, http://www.vision.2030.gov.sa