‘Instagram-worthy’: Covid-19 predicted to change design of Australian universities | Australian universities

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Australian universities are prioritising “Instagram-worthy” experiences on campus, while cutting building costs and face-to-face lectures, according to an external report on university digitisation.

The report, commissioned by telecommunications company Optus and IT company Cisco, claims that universities are moving towards “campuses that are cheaper to build” after the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the report was not written by a university, or a university industry body, Optus said it is based on “responses from executives across 80% of Australian higher education and Tafe institutes”.

Darren McKee, the chief operating officer of Murdoch University in Western Australia was quoted in the report saying: “The face-to-face mass lecture is all but dead”.

The report claims that creating a more “Instagram-worthy” campus is a new priority of university design.

“Fifty-four per cent of education leaders believe students will increasingly be looking for ‘Instagram-worthy’ experiences on campus,” it said. “There is general agreement that these changes are driving institutions towards investment in digital … Creating Instagram-worthy moments”.

More than 80% said students of the future would judge a campus by “how ‘alive’ it is”, rather than the “appearance and history of its buildings”.

“Covid-19 will permanently change education and campus design,” the report found, with 79% of education leaders saying they believed Covid-19 will be looked back on as the tipping point for the way campuses are designed in the future”.

Sixteen universities responded to the survey, including seven of the Group of Eight institutions, and four from the Australian Technology Network of universities – Curtin University, RMIT University, University of South Australia, and the University of Technology Sydney.

Nearly 90% of respondents said there would be “less demand for lecture theatres” and 92% said “institutions will be more focused on reducing operational costs”.

More than 80% said there would be more demand for “campuses that are cheaper to build, fit out, operate and maintain”.

In January, Universities Australia said more than 17,000 people had lost their jobs at universities since the start of the pandemic. The sector lost $1.8bn in revenue in 2020, and was projected to lose a further $2bn in 2021.

The chief executive of UA, Catriona Jackson, said the losses would probably continue for years due to lower intake in these two years as a result of border closures.

The digitisation report, from December, also said universities would put aside more space for “industry partners” and “employers” to have a physical presence on campus and “co-locate”.

McKee, from Murdoch University, was quoted in the report saying: “We are now reviewing what can we rationalise in terms of space and who we can attract to campus. Incubators, commercial space, government agencies, more student job-ready industry connections.”

“The face-to-face mass lecture is all but dead; current technologies and new ways of engaging with content provide more varied opportunities for our students’ learning outcomes.”

Nearly half of respondents also predicted more demand for “networked surveillance and public incident detection”.

Overall, the report concluded that: “The future campus will have fewer people … will have more porous boundaries to industry … will be more automated and efficient.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘Instagram-worthy’: Covid-19 predicted to change design of Australian universities | Australian universities

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