The Forum: One year on

  • Marquee for broken doors cost £22,203
  • Market place customer satisfaction at 90%
  • £3362 a year contract agreed on roof upkeep
A map of some of the Forum's various costs
A map of some of the Forum’s various costs

The Forum has become the University of Exeter’s student hub since being opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 2 May 2012, having suffered floods, broken revolving doors and damage to the roof incurred from seagulls.

The Forum opened to technical difficulties, as the revolving doors broke within the first two weeks of its availability to students, which, although fixed after the inital fault, broke again in November and December of 2012. As a result a marquee was externally hired and installed, the costs of which (including heating and some of the University’s own work force) came to a total of £22,203.53. There have been other maintenance issues with the Forum, including the upkeep of the glass roof which was damaged by seagulls. The damage to the ETFE pillows cost the university approximately £500 in labour work force time and required a maintenance contract of £3,362 yearly. Students also were disrupted by floods to the Alumni Auditorium and the library during the torrential rain on 22 November 2012.

However, the opening of the Forum proved successful for its retail outlets in particular, with the branch of Costa becoming the most successful one in the South West and Market Place recording 42 per cent more customer transactions than the previous year. Market Place has also recorded 90 per cent customer satisfaction in the lastest survey and stocks 25 per cent more product ranges than previous years – around 4,000.

Other expansions in the Forum include the Exploration Labs which house surface table computers that cost £180,000 plus VAT. The ten tables (plus one spare and an additional PC server) are currently used by 31 credit rated modules and also various bookings, meetings and training sessions. The Career Zone has also amassed 33 per cent greater footfall since relocating to the Forum.

The Library has also expanded since becoming part of the Forum, improving year on year in the student and staff satisfaction poll LibQUAL+ following the £5.8 million investment in facilities. The amount of study seats has risen to 700, rising to 850 at peak exam time and the library became one of the first universities to offer 24/7 library opening throughout the academic year, contributing to the increased customer satisfaction.

The Forum which cost c£50 Million to construct, has become the student hub of campus
The Forum which cost c£50 Million to construct, has become the student hub of campus

Despite the satisfaction in the library’s services, many students remain perturbed by the £283,000 in library fines accrued over the past five years. As reported by Exeposé in February 2013, the library had accumulated £63,574 in fines in 2011-2012 alone, and the library were unable to provide an exact breakdown of where and how the money was spent.

Guild President, Nick Davies commented: “Since its opening one year ago, the Forum has become the heart of the University. Not a day has gone by where the Forum has not been fully utilised, with students using the facilities well into the night. The Forum is a fantastic accolade that the students can be proud of, and is the envy of universities up and down the country.”

Additional reporting by Tom Payne


Author: Louis Doré

Freelance Journalist studying at City University, London on MA Newspaper Journalism.

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