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Treasury supports Northampton University’s campus project

The cut-throat bidding war among British universities for students and resources entered a more expensive phase last week following the University of Northampton’s announcement to borrow in the region of £300m to finance a new campus.

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The government’s decision to remove the limit on undergraduate student recruitment has resulted in an upsurge of building at British universities.

According to Northampton’s plans, an estimated £330m will be spent on the construction of its Waterside campus, and will include commercial space, a hotel, retail park and accommodation for 1,500 students.

This followed an announcement by the University of Kent in Canterbury who have also secured financing of £75m in loans in order to facilitate plans for expansion.

Government’s decision to do away with the cap on undergraduate student recruitment as of next year has started a building frenzy among British universities. Many universities now find themselves eager to jump ahead of their competitors with new halls of residences, lecture theatres and campus facilities designed to attract more students – and using their tuition fees to pay for the increased borrowing which will be required.

Andrew McGettigan, an expert on higher education funding, said:

“Higher education is in transformation. English universities are responding to new funding and market conditions with large capital investments and levels of long-term borrowing that have diverged significantly from the norms of the previous decade.”

Northampton will be the first university to take advantage of the UK guarantee scheme which was introduced in 2012 as part of a £40bn initiative to help increase spending on infrastructure.

In total, the university plans to issue £231m through the UK guarantee scheme and a further £60m through the public works loan board, with support from Northamptonshire county council and Northampton borough council.

According to research commissioned earlier this year by the LSE Estates Division and the Higher Education Design Quality Forum (HEDQF), more than a third of students have turned down universities due to their lack of facilities and the quality of the buildings.

The research was based on data gathered from 1,000 students across the UK, and reveals the most important factors students take into consideration throughout the application process when choosing a university.

86% of students said that estate quality is ‘quite’ or ‘very’ important in their first year of studies. Third year students however do not attach the same amount of importance to the quality of university estates.

Now that the cap on undergraduate numbers has been removed, and an additional 60,000 students are forecast to enrol, there is an ever increasing urgency with regards to the universities building programme. Universities are under increasing pressure to deliver state of the art learning facilities and accommodation in order to attract students from all over the world.


The Guardian



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Guest Monday, 09 December 2019