London will see a tug of war between educational institutes vying for the top slot. Colleges such as Imperial College have set their ambitions to upgrade themselves to something better, stronger and innovative.
In a fast changing educational world, investment is the biggest thing that determines the success of any educational institutes.
Revamping the offering, expanding the infrastructure and organizing the learning process: everything counts. The colleges and universities in London are on a spending spree.
London School of Economics is restructuring its campus. It is given a grant of USD 179 million to pull down its four buildings and reconstruct them. It also aims to build a new public square by 2018.
University College London (UCL) is up for a huge second campus near to the 2012 Olympic site. The campus shall be called as UCL East. UCL remains the second most highly-funded institution for research income.
Similarly, Kings College London has claimed the historic old BBC building. The Imperial College aims to spend £3 billion to renovate 25 acres of land in West London which includes a research hub costing £200-million. The Aviva Investors will forward fund £150m to build a huge White City office building for Imperial College.
The total cost put together for all the colleges and universities in London amounts to the tune of USD 6 billion. This is no more a small fight. It’s becoming a big war. There are speculations that such attempts are directed towards attracting foreign students.
There is a belief among the institutions and universities that they are capable of challenging global renowned institutions. Universities in London, for the time being, are confident of reaching the levels of Oxford and Cambridge and the Ivy League universities.
Hiring new leadership and revamping the structure, as they believe, are the key pay off. For example, Imperial College hired Alice Gast as president. She was previously associated with Lehigh University, Pennsylvania.
The education system in the UK was completely state funded. It was free until 1998. The universities could charge £1,000 a year to students. Over the years, it has increased nine fold. Now the universities are charging a maximum of £ 9,000 per year. Only Scottish Universities are providing free education to the locals. Students from London and other counties are required to pay the stipulated tuition fees.
As the taxpayers are no more paying for the funding, the educational institutions are allowed to take an unlimited number of students. Earlier, there was a limit to the number of students getting admission. Though the fees are a bit costly, yet remains cheaper than the private universities in the US.
University College London, prepared an interim finding related to the development of educational institutes, spatial alteration for reconstructing and renovating the infrastructure.It also highlights how cuts in public funding have endangered their position and has increased global competition. But the question remains whether the benefits accrued at the top level will flow down to the base! It’s important that any development related to the urban landscape must consider the community. It must acknowledge how transformation will reap benefits for everyone.