Why Are Universities Increasing Refurb & Renovation Cycles?
Competition Over Student Recruitment
It is becoming increasingly more challenging to attract students to universities – according to THE World University Rankings, a recent poll by the national union of students demonstrated that approximately half of graduates felt that their degrees were not worth the tuition fees charged. Therefore, UK universities are continuously striving to improve their student satisfaction rates – and it appears that these are not reflected merely in terms of academic teaching quality, but rather by the wider, overall student life.
Student satisfaction levels of university life are comprised of a combination of factors which include both academic and social aspects. The learning experience as a whole, seems to be measured not only by teaching quality, but also by the standard of both educational and recreational facilities on-campus. A sense of community spirit which encourages students to become involved and actively participate within community life, also plays a key role. In order to meet these demands, many universities are looking to revamp their facilities and increase the frequency of their refurbishment cycle to ensure both educational and recreational campus facilities are kept up to date with modern trends and technology.
Learning Facilities And Student Satisfaction
The university experience is crucial to the student's sense of belonging and satisfaction, higher levels of well being are associated with increased learning and levels of productivity. Universities which lack quality features are often associated with higher levels of student dissatisfaction – successful learning and indeed a positive university experience, takes place in buildings with suitable interiors, which are clean, healthy and safe. The condition of campus facilities, such as the lecture theatre, has a direct impact on educational outcomes; it could be said that the design of such facilities, is in many ways, a direct reflection of the university's physical environment – reflecting its goals and values.
The Lecture Theatre
The lecture theatre is one of the university's prime learning locations – a highly focused, purpose built space, the quality of the lecture theatre is of significant importance to student satisfaction. An adequate and effective layout and design with appropriate seating plans, good lighting and ventilation are all aspects which support world class teaching.
The physical redevelopment of the lecture theatre is paramount to supporting more modern learning pedagogic approaches, such as collaborative learning initiatives. Seating is an extremely important element, as comfortable seats and writing surfaces are conducive for successful group and individual study. The lecture theatre should provide a space suitable not only for the lecturer to student relationship, but also one which allows students to engage with one another, and promotes independent study and critical thinking – such spaces typically see a higher level of engagement of student attention.
Although the constant evolution of technological advances brings with it a great many advantages for academic settings, it also however, poses challenges for academic institutions which have to continuously adapt their facilities in order to support the changing dynamics of approaches to learning techniques and their environments.
Brexit and Uncertainty Over Funding
The uncertainties of Brexit bring with it financial instability. The possibility of a number of academic and cultural setbacks – such political changes mean that UK universities could become less attractive destinations for overseas students. Universities are working even harder to create spaces which fulfil all the modern day requirements.
How Often Do Universities Need To Refurbish?
Traditionally university refurbishment cycles could range from anything between 10 and 20 years, the majority of universities nowadays however, stipulate a 7 year refurbishment cycle, although in key areas this is often updated sooner. Change is typically motivated by the need to accommodate increasing technology and a greater flow of students, as well as for comfortable and attractive interiors.
Cycles Identified By BCFA Members
The Distinct Refurbishment Cycles:
Ferco Seating University Projects
Ferco Seating have over thirty years' experience designing schems to complement an array of different venues, including a wide range of educational institutions across the globe – providing a full service, from design to manufacture. Seating projects include the following steps; initial enquiry, site visit, choosing a seat model, CAD Drawing Options, Quote Provided, 3D layouts, Seating Layout Agreed, Order Placed, Manufacture, Delivery and Installation.
Located in North Staffordshire, Keele is a public research university ranked highly in terms of student satisfaction. The single site campus is home to a large number of prestigious academic buildings as well as a diverse range of other facilities including conference centres, shops, cafes, an astronomical observatory, an arboretum, science business enterprise parks and an Earth Science Education Unit.
Ferco Seating were tasked with transforming the main lecture theatre of the Dorothy Hodgkin Building, into a bright contemporary lecture theatre space with complimentary desk space. The Athena seats were fixed onto an existing curve into concrete. The seats were riser-mounted and careful consideration was given to inclusivity, creating integrated DDA spaces for wheelchair users. The use of colour was important in this project – colour is a powerful communication tool and can influence mood and even psychological reactions. Upholstery was kept bright and fresh, with a range of colours used in a random pattern.
Maison Française d'Oxford (MFO)
MFO is a French research centre in the humanities and social sciences, it is a member of the Network of French Research Institutes Established Abroad (IFRE) by the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). The MFO hosts a number of interdisciplinary programmes, conferences, seminars as well as other events.
Ferco Seating were contracted to install a bespoke tiering package, incorporating a concealed but accessible storage area with a seating installation and fixed writing bench. This project had a number of existing physical considerations, which were to remain, incluing a concrete gallery, three fire exits and a stage. The project saw the successful transformation of a previously empty room into comfortable, modern lecture space.
University of Dundee
Specified by the architect James Paul Associates, Ferco has supported the continuing programme of refurbishment of teaching spaces, by replacing seating with the FT10 with Wrimatic tablet.
The FT10 Wrimatic™ is a luxurious, executive style lecture theatre seat with an integrated A3 Wrimatic tablet. Available in both standard and high backed versions this seat has been designed for superior ergonomic and posture support.
For more information on how Ferco Seating can help your educational institution, or to discuss a project, get in touch today.