Can virtual campuses help UK Universities meet their emissions targets?

During the 2005-2006 academic year the UK higher education sector committed to reducing emissions directly controlled by institutions by 43% before the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.

A cause for celebration, right?

Unfortunately, figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (and backed up by the People and Planet University League) show that the majority of our universities failed to meet these targets.

Academia is just one of many industries that is coming to realise that there is a stark contrast between setting net zero targets, and achieving said cuts. To start making significant changes, many of our great educational institutions are going to have to study up on the opportunities digital technologies have to offer them.

Virtual Campus

The opportunity afforded to universities (as well as colleges, schools and other institutions of education) through creating a ‘Digital Twin’ of their own building and campuses are incredible.

  • Recruitment – Offering potential students the opportunity to experience the look and feel of the school and engage with faculty and student representative remotely
  • Induction – Support new students find their feet to make sure they maximise their experience from day one
  • Accessibility – Offering higher levels of inclusion to students who require remote learning to incorporate all or part of their studies
  • Events – Engaging alumni, local businesses, sponsors etc. with digital opportunities to get to know the school

When universities convert elements of their recruitment, student engagement and social outreach programmes to a virtual environment they are simultaneously reducing their carbon emissions by up to 99% (for that activity) while also opening up their reach to a potentially global audience.

Leicester Business School

The University of Leicester School of Business is renowned for being an innovative school within a forward-thinking educational establishment. So it’s little wonder that it is a pioneer of the virtual campus – or that it’s already using it to fantastic effect.

Throughout the summer of 2022, V-Ex worked closely with the school to produce a fully interactive, photorealistic reproduction of the physical campus buildings. The virtual facility is open 24/7 to students, providing access to important resources, school events and campus updates or induction tours.

For a school that already caters for a large number of remote access students, the new campus will bring the learning community together like never before.