A new report has revealed that the UK’s elite universities plan to spend £9billion on architect-led schemes in the next four years
The report for the 24-strong Russell Group of universities underlines the importance of the planned capital projects for the architectural profession; with an outlay that equates to that of the 2012 London Olympics.
Among the schemes are Sheffield University’s £81million new engineering facility which is being delivered by RMJM offshoot Twelve Architects (AJ 28.08.13) the £1billion overhaul of the BBC’s former White City site for Imperial College which is being masterplanned by SOM (AJ 13.03.14) and the regeneration of the University of Edinburgh’s 10-storey Darwin Laboratory building by FCBS (AJ 06.05.14).
The Russell Group’s universities, which also include Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Bristol and Belfast, have 69 schemes in the pipeline during the 2013 – 2017 period.
The researchers also concluded that capital investment by the universities will generate £44.3 billion for the UK economy over the next 25 years; equating to £4.89 for every £1 invested.
Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, said: ‘Russell Group universities are engines of growth for the British economy. Not only do they lead the way in teaching and research – but they’re also a driving force behind the creation of new jobs, new opportunities for start-up companies and urban renewal in our cities.
‘The government have recognised much of this contribution but we would urge them to step up big capital investment in our universities. We will keep investing on behalf of our students and academics but the rest of the world are snapping at our heels and spending money to match their ambition.
‘We must do the same,’ said Piatt.
Tim Brown, director of architecture, Broadway Malyan
‘Our own experience of working with universities is that institutions are having to compete harder when it comes to attracting the best students and research staff.
‘The introduction of tuition fees has also raised students’ expectations of the university experience. Students are increasingly discerning about what is on offer – they expect world-class teaching and research facilities and libraries, as well as high-quality accommodation.
‘Our direct experience is that the quality of teaching and research facilities is a major factor in the success of a university – reinforcing a reputation for teaching and research excellence.
‘New facilities funded by future investments should provide students and staff with a contemporary learning environment and experience through 24-hour hubs which combine learning and teaching, enable social interaction between students and teachers and foster collaboration and innovation.’