University building boom

5 April 2012

A drive to attract more postgraduates and oversees students is set to result in a building boom amongst universities, reports Construction News. Nearly 8 out of 10 universities will undertake a major construction project worth more than £5m within the next year, according to research from contractor Wates.

The survey of 52 senior estates staff at universities revealed that the most popular types of projects were improvements to teaching areas, research facilities and student accommodation.  Over two thirds of respondents said they were making the changes to attract more international or postgraduate students.

Construction of large-scale commercial projects like on-site science parks or hotels could be a future growth area:  32 per cent of respondents were considering these schemes and a further 31 per cent were open to doing a similar deal in future.

Over a third (38 per cent) thought they were not making efficient use of space. The report’s authors said this showed scope for universities to reconfigure their campuses to improve space usage. Ian Vickers, universities lead at Wates Construction, said: “Students are being asked to pay more than ever before for a university degree. That means they expect a quality of experience that reflects the high price they are paying. In order to remain competitive, universities are therefore looking to deliver modern facilities that have the ‘wow’ factor while also encouraging more efficient and collaborative use of space.“

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