Last week I posted a blog about a report highlighting the scale of the Russell Group of Universities’ development plans.

Hot on the heels of that report, comes the publication of the latest Annual Higher Education Estates Statistics Report by AUDE, the Association of University Directors of Estates.  It makes for very interesting reading and includes some impressive figures, not least that the university sector has a turnover of some £27.3bn, spends £2bn (excluding residential) per annum and occupies some 26 million m2.

To give those statistics some context, turnover of that scale would make the university sector equivalent to the fourth largest FTSE company, behind the likes of Tesco and Vodafone.  The figure for capital expenditure is greater than the annual Crossrail budget and UK universities occupy an area just behind the NHS but 2½ times ahead of the government’s own estate.  The fundamental importance of the university estate to the national economy could not be more clearly underlined.

It is especially encouraging to note that reported investment in the academic estate (excluding residential) has risen by £170m, or 9%, from 2011-2012.  The sector has faced great changes in recent years and has had to contend with a very high level of financial and economic insecurity.  Tuition fees have trebled in England over the last five years, income has decreased in real terms, competition at home and abroad has intensified, costs have risen and constraints on budgets have never been greater.  Despite these pressures, the sector has nevertheless become increasingly adept at drawing on internal and alternative sources of funding.  As a result, the investment essential to ensuring the continued vitality of the higher education sectors’ estate and therefore the institutions themselves, has been maintained and increased.