Uni's invest millions to stay in the race

Posted by Hannah Walker in

Universities across the country are investing millions into new facilities in order to attract students to their campus. From the perspective of the student, expectations for student living has dramatically increased, with double beds, wi-fi and en suites now being considered a given. Meaning that the pressure is on for universities to provide top-notch accommodation. Vice-chancellor at the University of Gloucestershire said: "When we have applicants and their parents here on open days, their first set of questions is about the course, but the next question is always 'where will I live?' It is very much part of the whole deal." With student numbers being uncapped as of next year, competition between institutions will only get more and more competitive. However, experts are showing concern for institutions that will be taking a significant financial gamble in order to compete. Universities have been turning to City investors to try and get support for new projects but have found that unless you are considered part of the elite Russell Group, funding is proving difficult to obtain. Roshana Arasaratnam, part of Moody's Investors' service, which is responsible for credit-rating universities warns, "that [borrowing funds] might put [these institutions] in a more vulnerable position as higher levels of debt along with higher interest costs might constrain their ability to repay the debt and reduce their available cash flow."

Salford University has spent £81m investing into new facilities and will be offering students as much as 1,300 new en suite bedrooms to choose from. Halls will include a gym, games room, cinema room will pool tables and football tables as well. Standard Life pension provided considerable amounts of money for this project, with the university also going through a procurement process to secure other various investors. Stephen Talboys, who is the university's director of estates, voices his annoyance that investors are more willing to lend to those who are part of the elite group, as he believes that "it ought to be more finely grained than that."

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