Despite the government’s increase in tuition fees to £9,000-a-year, almost half of all young people in England now go on to higher education. There’s been a 10,000 rise in the number of 17-30 year olds going to university in the last year. According to the Department for Education, 49.3% of people are now likely to go to university before they are 30. This is the highest number on record and up almost 7.5% from a decade ago. Despite tuition fees increasing three-fold in 2012, higher education has never been more popular amongst young people. Following the lifting of student number controls in England in 2015, universities now have free rein to recruit as many undergraduates as they see fit and Tony Blair’s 1999 pledge, that 50% of all young people should take part in higher education, is becoming a reality.
In response to the DfE report, Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, said: ‘These statistics show the numbers of students are continuing to rise and adds further evidence that the government’s reforms to widen participation in our world class higher education sector are working.’ These sentiments are echoed by Sarah Stevens, head of policy at Russell Group, who describes higher education as a “path to social mobility”. With more than 27% of all 18-year-olds going into higher education, the demand for higher education is growing at a faster rate than the increase in the population.
But some critics are now asking are too many pupils going on to higher education simply because it has been presented as the only viable path to securing a rewarding and well-paid job. Student debts in the UK are now the highest in the developed world with the average student loan now over £50,000. With a dramatic increase in numbers, do UK universities still have the space and facilities to be centres of excellence offering every student who attends real value for money? When the new regulator, the Office for Students, becomes fully operational in April 2018, universities will be held accountable for teaching quality and student outcomes.
Coping with the boom in student numbers will involve a complex strategy but one simple solution to increased space on campus is the Streetspace ZONE™ glazed extension. ZONE™ is a premium product system that creates valuable enclosed space from under-utilised outdoor areas in a highly competitive package. Many educational establishments have chosen to invest in this type of facility to generate more learning space within their core campus buildings. Dining and breakout space is re-homed within the new ZONE™ glazed building extension providing many of the benefits of a traditional build with significantly greater affordability.
Recent Streetspace ZONE™ glazed extensions, have seen the creation of light, architecturally stunning dining areas, where due to limited funding availability, a traditional build is not viable. The completed structure can cleverly create a focal centrepiece between two existing adjacent buildings, maximising usable space across dining areas to create a more effective facility. The striking design of ZONE™, including double glazed curtain walling, ensures that the glazed extension retains its own distinct identity while blending in with surrounding buildings. With lighting and air-temperature control, attractive areas can be created for year round use.
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