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Has the university building gold rush run its course?


Your article strikes a chord: our contacts in the HE sector are forecasting less expenditure on major capital projects. There are multiple reasons for this including a dip in UK demographics, the anticipated cut in tuition fees, reduced government funding, uncertainty about replacing EU research funding and increasing staff pension liabilities. This will result in fewer huge landmark projects and more focus on maximising the existing estates. These still operate inefficiency with low occupancy and utilisation rates. Many campuses retain a legacy of 1960s buildings. Often these have design and construction flaws but provide a strong identity which – with imagination – can be repurposed to suit modern needs. New buildings will continue to be built but must be justifiable. You feature ADP's Laidlaw Library, which has become the most popular and heavily-used of the University of Leeds libraries by providing exactly the mix of facilities students want. Universities inevitably focus on the needs of their young student cohort but could develop a wider role in society, meeting the needs of lifelong learners and CPD. Too often, graduates move away from where they study: universities need to develop closer links, through their research to local industry, developing innovation centres, supporting start-up businesses, reaching-out to their local communities. So yes, there may well be a refocusing of capital expenditure, but universities could occupy a more pivotal role in smart cities of the future: architects need to spot the new trends and opportunities.

Posted date

2 February, 2019

Posted time

10:29 am


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