Leading British universities have announced an expansion due to the growing number of people pursuing Master's degrees as they seek to gain an edge in the labour market.
Fuelled by this trend, the University of Bristol plans to invest GBP 300 million in the construction of a second campus, reports The Times.
It plans to increase in size by about a quarter, with most growth coming from postgraduate students seeking higher professional qualifications.
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Its new campus, whose exact location in the city is still unknown, is scheduled to open by 2021 and will eventually accommodate about 5,000 students. It will focus on subjects linked to the digital economy. The location will be announced in several weeks' time. In an interview with British daily The Times, Hugh Brady, the university's vice-chancellor, said "Increasingly undergraduates, whether here or abroad, see the Bachelor degree almost as a starter degree. We will be into a future where a majority of students will be taking a higher degree, many of them immediately having completed their undergraduate [studies]. That taught Masters space is a really interesting one in terms of specialisation or adding another string to your employability."
Several other Russell Group universities, including Cardiff and Cambridge, have taken advantage of the removal of a cap on student numbers and low borrowing costs to develop new campuses.
Bristol has expanded honours degree programmes rapidly in recent years in areas such as English and history, and may increase some undergraduate courses in economics, finance, management, medicine, and veterinary medicine, The Times reported.
Its biggest growth areas will be crossdiscipline Masters degrees such as healthcare management, biotechnology, energy, engineering with computer sciences, cybersecurity, analytics, modelling and simulation, plus associated research.
Its school of economics, finance and management will be upgraded to a business school with separate faculties for digital innovation, business startups, and interaction with Bristol's economy and civic society.
Professor Brady, the vice-chancellor, said "Between now and 2023 we will expand by approximately 25%, but that will still leave us being a relatively small institution because it will take us up to about 27,000 students."
The vice-chancellor, who took over a year ago, is also developing a personal development curriculum that will allow students to take courses to improve their employability skills, either in entrepreneurship, international links or environmental programmes.
Bristol is highly sought-after among undergraduates, but it has scored poorly for aspects of teaching in student surveys, especially for academic assessment and feedback. Now the university will guarantee students a minimum of ten hours a week contact time. The vice-chancellor is also consulting academics on plans to ensure that marked work is returned to promptly.
Despite some low scores in surveys, Professor Brady said that students reported being stimulated by their degrees and that academics were accessible, "so the fundamentals are right".
Source: The Times