British universities are amongst the best in the world, but the competition to maintain that status gets more intense every year. Those seeking to be at the top of their game have enlisted the support of the team at Maris, where Managing Director, Alex Hunt, heads up our educational division, specialising in world-leading facilities.
Learning environments that attract students
While scholastic oligarchs capitalise on their heritage, those with a forward-thinking approach are upping their game and investing in state-of-the-art on-site and satellite facilities that serve the wants and needs of modern students. The goal is not only to attract more students, both from the UK and overseas, but also to deliver educational experiences that set individual universities apart in terms of experience and learning outcomes.
Alex says: “It’s about student attraction. Most students don’t pick their university purely because of the course – they look at the whole experience of what life will be like at university. As with office spaces, Covid has driven a change in how students interact with the university campus – they don’t have to be there, so it’s about wanting to be there. That means developing fantastic spaces for them to be in.”
Treating students like adults
Digitisation has also created a huge step change in how students are taught and treated. Alongside academic prowess, universities are much more aware of the need to prepare students for the world beyond education. They’re keen to develop environments that treat students like adults, wanting them to make their own choices and prepare them for going into the world of work.
In some cases that’s supported by partnerships with industry leaders. For example, you might have a lab space supported by Pfizer or a product development site in collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover. Those commercial collaborations create a very clear pathway for students as well as a pipeline of potential talent for industry.
Alex says: “It’s about moving from the old school didactic way of teaching and listening in a lecture for three hours to more dynamic teaching methods. A Large proportion of unis are now teaching online, so lecture time is more peer-to-peer conversation and co-learning opportunities. The spaces we create are about helping them to treat their students like adults in environments where they can talk and interact.”
Creating dynamic social and educational spaces
Where these changes become incredibly exciting from a design perspective is the endless opportunity to create unique experiences for students that push the boundaries of learning. Our team at Maris has been working with universities across the UK on revolutionary projects.
The combination of pedigree, innovation and rapid turnaround times that we bring to our work has made us a first-choice partner for institutions, developing everything from lecture theatres to sound studios and mock hospital wards that are fully equipped for training NHS nurses.
Alex says: “Our education division is a dedicated team of people who bring their knowledge of the business sector to the rigours and opportunities of higher education. We have the capacity to meet extremely tight timeframes and frameworks, whilst also bringing a level of innovation that sets institutions apart and makes them stand out to prospective students in a highly competitive environment.”