Wednesday, March 24, 2021

How do you plan a university campus post-COVID-19?

The University of Canberra will launch an updated Campus Master Plan on Thursday. It will be interesting to see how this differs from the current plan, which was released in 2012. Flexibility, I suggest, should be the priority, with most students mostly studying online, even after COVID-19.

The university planned to have 10,000 full-time equivalent students on campus. Also there were plans for a bridging programs with 1,000 full-time equivalent students, including international ones, operating from purpose-built premises. The plan also designated a health precinct, which has seen the building of the University of Canberra Hospital.

As COVID-19 shows, there are predicable and foreseeable events which can case havoc for institutions which fail to plan for them. Australia's universities now face the prospect for further disruptions to international students in the short term due to regional tensions. There will also be increased competition from online international providers in the next decade, as online education becomes the default option for domestic and international students.

As I pointed out in 2012, the typical university student of 2020 and beyond "... will be on campus for only about 20% of their studies, with 80% on-line away from the campus ...". This has implications for the types of spaces provided. Buildings need to be able to be repurposed and flexible in day to day use. 

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