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Enhancing the student experience is a key outcome of the University’s Strategic Plan.
There are many physical implications of delivering a quality student environment, with a focus on providing flexible spaces in which new learning environments can be readily introduced. There is an emphasis on providing affordable student accommodation near to the campus.
Development of suitable learning spaces has been a key element in the delivery of new buildings over the past ten years. Buildings such as the Business School, Sciences Library and Molecular and Chemical Sciences offer a range of teaching and learning spaces, especially for collaborative work, in addition to the traditional lecture theatres, which are less receptive to changed approaches to teaching.
The delivery of New Courses 2012 will help to engage with the modern needs of students. Suitable student centres are needed to help students in the new system. Such a centre or centres should be centrally located in easy-to-find locations with a ground floor location.
Student hubs, and student presence generally in overlapping activities within a relatively small area, will promote more face-to-face social contact and counteract the social isolation of the virtual world. As well as increased surveillance generated by the presence of more students, it is likely there will be a greater awareness of students who may have or be developing personal, societal or study related difficulties.
The urban renewal of the Crawley area, in addition to higher demand for rental properties, has limited opportunity for students to live close to the University. Increased engagement with students on campus is proven to lead to better learning outcomes.
Recognising that the majority of the world’s top 50 universities are residential institutions, this University should focus on the delivery of further student accommodation. Over the past ten years the market has failed to deliver affordable student housing, despite significant waiting lists at the University residential colleges and a 2004 report prepared by UWA’s Professor HY Izan calling for a further 300 beds.
A report on the world’s top 50 universities indicates that universities such as Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Stanford and Yale, have between 90 per cent and 100 per cent of their students in residence. The location of additional beds is important to the future built form of the UWA area. The options include development of additional accommodation in existing residential colleges, construction of new accommodation on University-owned land, and/or development of accommodation integrated with new multi-purpose buildings on and around campus.
Staff housing is also a priority as the University attracts and retains quality staff. For newly-appointed staff, short stay accommodation allows more time for staff to look for permanent accommodation to rent or buy. It is not the intention to displace private residents from the Crawley area with student and staff housing, but to retain and add to the existing diversity of the area.
There is evidence of students wanting to spend more time on campus. Libraries and other student resource centres are now operating extended hours due to demand, and further use of the campus outside of the core weekday hours will lead to better use of space and more efficient use of buildings.
The University provides a number of sporting, educational and cultural activities involving the local community. The addition of many more students living in the local community will bring demand for an increase in these activities, and students will play a significant role in the life of the local community.