Expertise / Education and Science / Designer insight

Universities in need of master plan for success

A HASSELL led study into the master plans of some of the world’s leading universities has identified the major factors that are fundamentally changing the shape of campus infrastructure and services.

Led by Principal Adam Davies, the study reviewed the publicly available master plans of 24 academic institutions across Australia, North America, the UK, Hong Kong and Denmark to better understand the pressures on the sector and how well prepared it is to meet the demands of the next generation of campus users.

"Investing in a wide-reaching master plan that identifies and addresses the key drivers of change in the sector will be central to universities' ability to maintain their competitive advantage in the coming years," says Adam.

"As many universities prepare to revise their master plans, it's vital they consider the impact of new academic approaches, a changing student demographic, greater use and integration of technology, and environmental sustainability on the campus," says Adam.

With increasing global competition for staff, students and funding Adam says university master plans need to establish a core vision and be underpinned by a suite of strategies for development and implementation that are flexible to market and environmental change.

“Some universities have an oversupply of ageing and unfit-for-purpose building stock which has left them with high operational and upgrade costs, a campus that lacks cohesion, and an expensive backlog of capital works,” says Adam.

“Given the increasingly competitive environment in which these universities are now operating, they need to plan the program of capital replacements that should take place over the next 10-15 years, or they risk a further erosion of quality and high ongoing operational costs for poorly performing assets.

“It can be difficult to retrofit a high-maintenance and underperforming 40-plus year old building and universities must consider the long-term cost/benefit that well-planned and modern facilities can bring to promote a university’s values, mission and position in the market place.”

Moving forward, universities may need to look beyond familiar ownership models, considering alternative financing options and inventive partnering deals that will allow them to invest, modernise and future-proof their campus facilities.

“There is an increasing trend to co-locate industry on university grounds for collaboration on bio- medical, technology and science research, which has led to an increase in the number and size of research buildings built or leased by universities,” says Adam.

"Importantly, as universities look beyond their boundaries for growth, partnership and funding opportunities, they need to include broader stakeholders as part of the master planning journey.

"If they are to thrive in today's marketplace, they must offer confidence to the private sector that they are equipped to adapt to the shifting landscape and offer a viable long term partnership opportunity."

The master planning review makes 10 recommendations for universities to ensure best practice in the design and delivery of a robust and cohesive campus which:

_Caters for future growth
_Is highly flexible and can meet changing learning, teaching, research and workplace needs
_Responds to future public transport needs
_Establishes the “catalyst projects” that will best add value to the university’s market offering
_Facilitates collaboration and industry partnership

 View a full copy of the report here

_Contact Adam Davies, Principal