The evolving role of the university campus

With rising student expectations and the increasing number of educational providers, the Higher Education sector has faced a number of challenges over the last few years to enhance the student experience and consumer offerings.

Great teaching facilities, strong online provision and high quality/technologically advanced lecture theatres are no longer enough to attract students. Campuses need to provide that all round living and learning experience, with social and multi-functional spaces to optimise students’ sense of belonging.

Dubbed “sticky campus”, the term describes the strategies that universities have been implementing to get students to ‘stick’ around the campus.

Universities have had to adapt to provide environments where students want to stay around beyond the teaching timetable.  Through creating new spaces and redesigning areas to provide flexible, sociable and comfortable learning environments, students are being given more choice as to where and how they wish to study and interact.

From quiet focused areas and collaborative group spaces, to informal and sociable meeting areas, universities have been redesigning and repurposing their built environment to deliver a more enjoyable, impactful experience.

By equipping the university campus and facilities to adapt and flex with changing demands, universities are also developing ways in which they connect with the wider region, where communities can also enjoy the spaces.

The COVID-19 pandemic has required universities to adapt quickly. Single use learning spaces and teaching classrooms are, in many cases, outdated and lack flexibility. Spaces need to be modified to provide necessities to students, but also provide spaces that work long term in and for the local community. By integrating community indoor and outdoor spaces, encouraging collaboration through multipurpose facilities, mixed-use buildings are providing the flexibility needed to meet changing demands. Architecturally inspiring buildings, enhanced technology offerings, food and beverage, retail, social venues and open spaces are some of the ways in which universities have been looking to achieve this, demonstrating the changing role of the university in its (wider) built environment.

Here are a couple of examples of what our university clients are doing to provide spaces to support their students and encourage them to remain on campus:

It’s also interesting to hear about the considerations that new entrant and disruptor, the New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE), has had to think about ahead of it welcoming students to campus: https://youtu.be/aMytEEVaLMk and the role it’s playing in driving local regeneration, education and employability.

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