UK universities have increased the amount they are spending on new construction projects by 43% year-on-year in order to expand their campuses and facilities.
According to figures by industry analysts Barbour ABI there has been £1.5 billion spent by UK universities on construction projects in the last year, with five such projects costing more than £50 million each. What’s more, it has been predicted that at least a further £2bn will be spent between 2017 and 2020 on similar builds.
Michael Dall, the lead economist at Barbour ABI, said:
"Since the change in the tuition fee regime universities have focused on improving campus facilities in the increasingly competitive market of attracting prospective students. This has involved using increased student fees and debt markets to invest heavily in construction projects."
The massive expansion programme is the biggest witnessed at UK universities since the 1960s. The main reason cited for such intensive building is that award-winning architecture helps lure more lucrative foreign students to study in the UK. The current trend has been further aided by the larger university fees that students now pay, as well as access to cheap, long-term credit.
An example of this came from University College London, which signed up for the biggest bank loan in UK university history – borrowing a staggering £280m to help build a new campus in East London and to refurbish its facilities at other sites throughout the capital.
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