Universities to design future learning landscapes in higher education


The University of Lincoln is leading eight major universities in a nation-wide £¼ million project to design the university of the future. The universities will be test beds for innovation, finding ways to advance teaching and learning by blending physical and virtual resources with pedagogic methods.


Nearly £300k of funding has been awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) to redesign the physical environment of universities for the 21st century. The project sees the University of Lincoln working in partnership with Glasgow, Loughborough, Queen Mary (London), Newcastle, Oxford Brookes, Reading, Warwick, Wolverhampton and York universities and the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education, to shape the future of learning landscapes in higher education.


The project, entitled Learning landscapes: clearing pathways, making spaces –involving academics in leadership, governance and the management of estates in higher education, will see staff and students involved in research and debate across universities in the UK, around the complexities of constructing a contemporary university.


Lincoln’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Chiddick, who is the chair of the UK HE  Learning Landscapes Group, said: “This is a timely and important project. We will explore new pathways and strategies which universities can use to link how and where students now learn to cost-effective estate development - in effect redesigning our universities for the future.”


Project Director and Dean of Teaching and Learning at the University of Lincoln, Professor Mike Neary, added: “This learning landscape approach is much more than the physical environment – it is the whole context in which learning takes place and thus also includes cultural and technological considerations. It will lead to a more efficient, effective and sustainable use of space throughout the HE sector.”


Steve Egan, HEFCE Deputy Chief Executive, said: 'We are happy to support this project which will encourage a creative and flexible approach to planning university environments for the future. We particularly welcome the involvement of students in the project as the needs of learners are paramount in designing spaces that are appropriate for their needs'.

Working with the University of Lincoln will be leading strategic design consultancy, DEGW who bring a breadth and wealth of learning environments expertise as well as capacity for innovative thinking about design.


Director of Research and Learning at DEGW, Andrew Harrison, said:

“Universities, colleges and schools are all fundamentally rethinking the role of the physical learning environment in an increasingly connected, collaborative and virtual world. This project is a unique opportunity to look at the particular challenges and opportunities that Higher Education is facing and develop a new model for the 21st century university campus.”