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Much to be gained from meeting university challenges

Which university is seeking three contractors for an eight-year framework?

£1.17bn is the value of the pipeline of work for which university? Which higher education establishment has plans for a new campus at the Olympic Park?

If you’re not quite up to Jeremy Paxman’s standards on your knowledge of the university sector, you’ll find all the answers in our latest analysis where we have highlighted the huge scale of opportunities.

The 24 universities that make up the Russell Group are planning to spend £9bn alone up until 2016/17 amid global competition for students.

While working for university clients has always been a favoured source of work amongst contractors - it’s steady, and the clients don’t generally go bust - this new generation of proposed projects is often on a different scale of complexity and ambition.

Shifting client approach

Universities are increasingly leveraging their position in cities by drawing in wealth.

“As schemes have become more exacting and innovative so too has the procurement process”

At King’s Cross, Argent persuaded Central Saint Martins college to move in, bringing thousands of students to the area, in a high-profile example of how universities can help catalyse regeneration.

In North West Cambridge, the university is spearheading a £1bn development complete with supermarket, recreational facilities and a school, providing a new blueprint for the way universities and towns can work together.

Elsewhere, institutions like Warwick are working with blue chip firms to build research facilities.

But as schemes have become more exacting and innovative so too has the procurement process. Two-stage tenders have become the norm, which is unlikely to suit everyone.

The good news is those £9,000-a-year fees are creating discerning clients looking to hand work to those who can produce world-class performance, rather than simply offer the lowest price.

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