5 December 2016 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) annual report states the sector grew by £2 billion in one year, despite a challenging funding environment and a decrease in the number of home students.
The annual turnover for the entire UK university sector now equates to £30 billion overall.
The report says capital expenditure grew by 5.6 per cent across the UK, driven by investment in the estate as the sector "continues to improve its estate and facilities in the knowledge that staff and students expect high-quality and attractive facilities".
The report also details how Brexit may present a significant risk to the higher education sector; it is impossible to predict the level of impact, although opportunities are also likely to emerge, says AUDE.
Risks identified in the report include recruitment of EU staff and students, rising construction costs, alongside changes to regional EU funding (EU research funding generates more than 19,000 jobs across the UK and £1.86 billion for the UK economy. This equates to 14 per cent of all UK income from research grants).
The study adds that university estates continue to expand. The university estate equates to 14,300 square metres - more than 170 times the space of The Shard and an increase of 200,000 square metres since the previous year. Individually, the universities of Manchester, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford and Nottingham all have academic estates (excluding residential accommodation) in excess of 500,000 square metres.
Despite this growth and significant inflationary pressures (staff costs and construction price inflation), total property costs have remained relatively level for the past six to seven years, moving from £95 to £98 per square metre, showing the sector's continued commitment to driving efficiency.