Social Informal Learning Spaces (SILS) at University of Brighton, winner of The AUDE University Impact Initiative of the Year Award

The Social Informal Learning Spaces (SILS) at University of Brighton have been honoured with The AUDE University Impact Initiative of the Year Award. The SILS project at Brighton University was the stand out initiative that had the most positive impact on its University and students. The annual AUDE Awards, held this year at the University of Stirling, aim to highlight and celebrate the exceptional achievements of universities and those who work within them.

The University of Brighton impressed the judges with their innovative SILS project. SILS was primarily developed around research and the realisation that the role of the University is changing and therefore needed to provide a different experience for the student. Brighton responded to this brief by designing their social informal and learning spaces to look natural and crop out of nowhere, making students comfortable and at ease with their surroundings.

This award not only recognises the space for which the award was granted but honours the team that developed it. The two graduates appointed to oversee the SILS initiative, Tom Munson and Carly West, were given the freedom and autonomy needed to engage with the student community effectively. Being recent graduates created an immediate empathy with the student body and built the trust and respect needed to provide the best possible spaces to learn and socialise.

Mike Clark, Director of Estate & Facilities Management at University of Brighton says: “The SILS project has demonstrated that empowering staff at a relatively junior level can bring significant and demonstrable benefits to the University. Tom and Carly were instrumental in the inception, development and implementation of the project and were invited to speak at a major conference on learning environments in 2013. The exceptional performance of the team was also recognised by the University of Brighton.”

SILS at Brighton University have also benefited other University campuses as a shining example of social learning space. Other Universities have heard about the SLIS project through word of mouth, consultants working on other places at the University and through feedback shared with them. Over 100 industry professionals benefited from a presentation Tom and Carly were invited to give at the Design & Management of Learning Environments conference in June 2013. They both gave an assured assessment of the project.

The University of Brighton is located on three sites within Brighton, two sites in Eastbourne and one site in Hastings. This geographical spread could be unique for a single University in the UK and presents challenges which one location Universities won’t encounter. The SILS model works as a mechanism by which the Universities resources can be effectively applied across the various estates to the benefit of all students.

The AUDE Awards are the inaugural Higher Education Estates and Facilities Awards, designed to encourage excellence in the Higher Education estates facilities sector. For more information, please visit: