London HE Week: mapping HE estates

As part of London HE Week, on 20 June, London Higher members and invited guests gathered to celebrate an innovative set of maps which have been developed by the University of London with assistance from London Higher, the GLA and the British Property Federation.

The maps include information on student accommodation, current and planned university properties, transport links, regeneration areas and priority areas for HE engagement.  Information and resources on wellbeing and knowledge exchange are being developed as part of the ongoing project.

The digital maps will be a unique resource to the capital, helping to address various issues facing London’s HE estates:

  1. Demographics – Population of 18 year olds predicted to undergo a steep rise soon implying a need for increased capacity in the HE sector.
  2. Commuter students – rise in numbers of commuter students may require a different approach with teaching and social facilities in areas with concentrations of commuter students; facilities on campus need to looked at such as provision of lockers and recreational areas.
  3. Student accommodation – work by London Higher and the University of London in Mayor’s London Plan has led to guidelines for providing 35% of rooms in new student developments at affordable rents.
  4. Augar Review – reduction in tuition fees carries the danger that there will not be compensatory funding from central Government; closer collaboration between FE and HE sectors likely for provision of high level skills, apprenticeships and lifelong learning.
  5. Financing investments – HE institutions are seen as being financially strong; uncertainties are Brexit, outcomes from the Augar review and pension liabilities.  Despite the focus on STEM, creative and humanities subjects will become as important in thinking about the future workforce.
  6. Local authority collaborations – the maps are a useful starting point during initial discussions for new HE developments; Planning applications by HE institutions should tell a story of how new developments would benefit an area, showing the range of activities that HE institutions can provide such as public engagement, shared community resources, regeneration opportunities, and the economic impact of student spending in an area.