Higher education institutions are undergoing a significant transformation, shifting away from traditional approaches and towards creating new opportunities to support students. When new demographics and generations enter universities and colleges, they bring with them a new set of demands, learning styles, and preferences. To keep up with the evolving needs of students, higher education institutions must adapt their campuses to support the student and faculty experience better. Continue reading to learn more about critical considerations for higher education institutions and the types of spaces students require for a better on-campus experience.
Critical considerations for higher education institutions
The physical campus profoundly impacts the student experience and plays a pivotal role in student engagement, well-being, and academic success. To improve the student experience, educational institutions must adopt holistic design approaches prioritizing the seamless integration of academic, social, and environmental factors. Institutions must consider the impact of their campus design on the student experience and continually seek ways to improve it.
Here are some critical considerations for education design:
In the digital age, a campus’s technological infrastructure is crucial. According to Deloitte, a technologically smart campus is “used to describe institutions that use next-generation technologies woven seamlessly within a well-architected infrastructure.” Reliable internet connection, modern classrooms equipped with tech tools, and access to online resources contribute to a more engaging and efficient learning experience. Spaces should allow students to easily access equipment such as computers, projectors/ display monitors, charging devices, and other relevant technological assets.
Social Interaction and Community Building
Spaces that support spontaneous encounters, social interaction, and community help to create a sense of belonging. Shared spaces, such as dining areas, student centers, and recreational zones, play a critical role in promoting social interaction and community building. These spaces encourage students to make social connections with their peers. Traditional models for education, such as lecture halls or quiet libraries, do little to lend themselves to social learning experiences. Therefore, higher education institutions can learn from the workplace and coworking spaces by creating community learning hubs that facilitate collaboration, connection, and innovation.
Accessibility and inclusion
An efficient campus design ensures students can easily navigate the campus and access classrooms, labs, and resources. It should be accessible to individuals with disabilities, culturally inclusive, and supportive of various lifestyles and backgrounds.
Health and Well-being
University plays a critical role in shaping students’ overall health and well-being, and thoughtful design can profoundly impact their experiences. Holistic campus design considers spaces that provide areas for relaxation, restoration, and prayer. Supplying students with areas to recharge near their classrooms helps positively contribute to student’s mental well-being. Campuses can introduce more amenity spaces, outdoor areas, well-lit rooms, and scenic views to create a supportive environment that positively impacts student’s and faculty’s overall well-being.
Students invest a substantial amount of time in seated work environments, whether at desks during lectures, communal tables for tutorials, or library benches for intense study sessions. Considering this, the significance of crafting spaces equipped with ergonomic furniture cannot be overstated. Research has consistently shown that well-designed furniture and equipment have a direct and positive impact on students’ productivity and performance. To ensure their success, universities and colleges must prioritize the integration of ergonomic furniture on their campuses.
A flexible and modular learning environment is instrumental in accommodating diverse learning styles and allowing institutions to create spaces that can serve multiple purposes. Whether individual or group work, large lectures, or dynamic discussions, adaptable spaces are becoming increasingly essential. These versatile areas can host various activities, including lectures, roundtable discussions, hands-on projects, and multimedia presentations. Moreover, designing spaces with multiple functions enables universities to optimize their use of space efficiently.
What types of spaces effectively support student needs?
As employees thrive in diverse work environments, students, too, require an array of spaces on campus to enrich their educational journey. These spaces are pivotal in fostering academic advancement, personal development, and overall well-being. Therefore, educational institutions should deliberate on a versatile environment that stimulates creativity, encourages collaboration, facilitates concentration, and promotes engagement among students and peers.
Here are recommended spaces to enhance the overall student experience:
1. Focus Spaces
Focus spaces support individual concentration and in-depth study. They offer a peaceful atmosphere with little to no distractions so students can focus on specific tasks. Moreover, focus spaces are essential for students who need solitude to absorb and process information effectively.
2. Group-focused activity areas
Spaces dedicated to collaboration are great for students who learn better when working with peers or when group work is required. Group-focused activity areas are critical for collaborative learning, team projects, and group discussions. To optimize these group spaces, it is essential to equip them with flexible seating arrangements, interactive whiteboards, and innovative technology to facilitate group work, enabling individuals to brainstorm, share ideas, and collectively solve complex problems.
3. Large and Small Gathering Spaces
Campuses can design spaces where students and faculty can gather. Large gathering areas are ideal for hosting conferences, seminars, or campus-wide events. Conversely, smaller meeting rooms support more intimate discussions and collaborative sessions.
4. Open Lounge Areas
Open lounges offer casual, informal settings for students to relax, socialize, or engage in non-academic conversations. Comfortable lounge seating, home-like appeal, and natural lighting encourage students to use these spaces to unwind or study in a relaxed atmosphere.
5. Green Spaces
Including green spaces in campus design is vital for promoting well-being and a connection with nature. These areas provide a breath of fresh air and moments of respite between classes. Green spaces have been shown to reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm and tranquillity, which can benefit students during exam periods.
Introducing Aura, your trusted partner for higher education renovations
Aura has emerged as a trusted partner for colleges and universities seeking to transform their campus environments into beautifully designed and highly functional spaces that align with their strategic initiatives. By understanding each institution’s unique needs and objectives, Aura Office has been instrumental in redefining how higher education institutions approach interior design and space planning. Through their collaboration with a range of esteemed institutions such as Sprott Shaw College, Ascenda School of Management Vancouver, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, Educacentre College, Hanson College, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and City University, Aura Office has demonstrated its commitment to elevating the on-campus experience for both students and faculty.
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