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UK universities expenditure on new facilities set to significantly rise over the next year

Posted by Hannah Walker in

New research by consultancy company Deloitte has found that over the next year, four out of five universities across the UK are planning significant investments into new facilities. Deloitte investigated into a report that was released by the Russell Group showing that the group of 24 research-intensive universities are set to spend more than £9bn on accommodation, IT, teaching facilities and even entirely new campuses. Funding for the projects is expected to come from an increase in bank borrowing, with 57% of the finance directors that Deloitte surveyed stated bank lending, while 51% indicated that they were planning a bond issuance. Such expenditure is reflective of this "buyers" market that UK universities have entered into. George Osborne's deregulation on student numbers has increased competition between institutions, and so in order to appeal to prospective students, universities are now spending millions. It has been reported that Swansea University are currently undergoing a £450m project to build an entirely new 65-acre campus in Neath Port Talbot.

Julie Mercer, head of education consulting at Deloitte, stated that higher education institutions have, "started to recognise that the world has changed, that they need to be slightly more sophisticated maybe in the way that they manage their business and plan for the future." With tuition fees having tripled back in 2012 to £9,000 students now demand a greater return from their university in relation to the teaching quality they receive and opportunities that are provided; particularly when comparisons are made to international institutions. Mike Boxall, a higher education expert at PA Consulting Group, cautions that "there will be some institutions who have spent money on nice shiny new facilities and buildings and campuses"‰."‰."‰."‰and then don't have the students to fill it, so they'll be stuck."

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