Lessons have, however, been learned from the pandemic, which will have an impact on how Universities and Colleges will develop in the future. Focus has shifted towards optimisation of space by making campus space more flexible, an increased awareness of wellness will lead to a desire to integrate more green space into campuses and the pandemic has accelerated the development of digital campuses as a way of supporting blended learning.
Physical university campuses and buildings will always be required and in an increasingly competitive student market, Universities will continue to invest heavily in their bricks and mortar to attract students and to enhance the student experience.
ESG is moving to the top of the agenda for many institutions with Universities setting themselves ambitious sustainability and decarbonisation targets. This will be achieved by refurbishing outdated campus buildings and investing heavily in greener technologies.
Universities will continue to be a major catalyst for urban regeneration acquiring and developing city centre sites that will provide better connectivity for students and make Universities more visible to the communities they serve.
There will still be a need for good quality student housing and the pre-pandemic trend of Universities providing more of this to students in all years will continue. This will release more housing stock that has traditionally been occupied by students back to local communities.
With restraints on funding from central government to education Universities and Colleges will look to alternative models of investment and funding streams to deliver their estates strategies. This will include entering into collaborations and joint ventures with private sector providers and will be used to deliver student housing, research and development facilities and new teaching facilities. For FE College this may also include mergers to create efficiencies of scale and allow for the release of under-utilised sites to free up cash for future investment.
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