• Education Science and Health

Universities and Science

A stable and sustainable funding environment is crucial for the UK’s universities to maintain their position as global leaders of science, arts and innovation, alongside their more progressive role to drive growth and generate employment.

Supporting the organisational and operational design of the systems, estates and facilities required to support universities and colleges long into the future

In recent years universities have experienced significant changes in funding and policy, set against the backdrop of a volatile economic environment and funding cuts across the public sector. 

With students now firmly at the heart of the university system, the sector needs a fundamental review of the organisational and operational design of the systems, estates and facilities required to support it long into the future.  

Funding and market competition

Changes in funding, from block grant allocations to tuition fees, has triggered many institutions to increase student numbers and revenue, thereby supporting the Government’s aim of increasing student choice and allowing for a more diverse sector.  

Universities are planning for expansion. However, with the demographic profile of the UK changing and fewer 19-year olds coming through the system, as well as a potentially diminishing foreign student cohort as world economies struggle, there is a risk that the UK will be facing a smaller pool of students for an increasing number of institutions and courses.

As a result, the market is becoming more competitive, with the focus for institutions shifting toward improving the student experience through the quality of accommodation and provision of non-core activities such as sport, leisure and retail facilities. Universities are facing more pressure to differentiate themselves to attract the best students.

Methods of teaching

Increasing student numbers, alongside the emergence of new technology and a greater proportion of learning materials available on line, has had an impact on traditional teaching styles and formats. 

The opportunity now exists to redesign teaching and the spaces that support this; providing more open, interactive and flexible accommodation capable of creating environments that enable collaboration within different learning and social settings.

It is therefore critical to ensure that adaptability and flexibility are planned in from the outset, ensuring that spaces can react to ever changing and developing technology solutions and future ways of working. 


In the face of ever-increasing skills shortages, Further Education (FE) Colleges have a critical role to play moving forward. While Degree courses are increasingly being delivered via FE Colleges, the real need is around technical skills and related further and higher education offers. 

Mergers and partnerships will increase across the sector. Meanwhile the opportunity exists for FE Colleges to take a leading role in delivering the learning standards and skills needed to equip the next generation with the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. 

Consideration of how estates and built assets play a role in this, both in terms of accommodation and revenue, will be crucial to this success.

Questions about this sector

Ian Aldous

Account Director for Universities and Science Ask me a question

Mel Manku

Regional Sector Director, Education, Science & Health Ask me a question
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