Improving health and wellbeing is seen as one of the key challenges of our time. The challenges cannot be resolved solely through local government or national health services; instead it requires much greater integration from all sectors of the economy and society. The University sector already plays key roles; both by providing research into public health and by acting as anchor institutions in their own cities and regions for non-academic partners, businesses, charities and social enterprises. Over two million people attend Universities in the UK with millions more connected through research, development, consultancy and are one of the biggest employers in Europe. UK Universities are facing increasing health problems with unprecedented levels of health issues, rising levels of stress, depression and mental health problems as well as the highest levels of obesity and sedentariness in Europe. However, there has been scant research on the role of the University Campus itself in terms of its relationship to public health.
This research critically examines the UK University Campuses in relation to key health outcomes. The role of the built environment is proven to play a significant role in determining health outcomes, but little is known specifically about the nature and extent that college campuses play in relation to human health and wellbeing.
The overall aim of the study is to evaluate the health impacts of contemporary UK University Campuses. To meet this aim, the following objectives are proposed:
1) The research begins with a systematic review to identify existing health criteria measurement tools methods and methodologies related to building design, landscaping and architecture.
2) The research then develops a theoretical formulation for the conceptualisation of health criteria measurement tools for evaluation of urban and architectural education contexts. This conceptualization is based on meta-analysis of existing methodologies and the outcome is used to create a healthy campus evaluation tool.
3) In order to validate the healthy campus evaluation tool, the research uses an empirical study of University campus in England.
The research findings reveal there are many criteria where the campus is rather poor in terms of measurable criteria. There are significant areas for improvement if the University is to be an exemplar of healthy urban development in cities and to fulfill its purported role as anchor institutions for improved health outcomes for the population. The research also highlights several gaps in knowledge and emphasizes the need for further research in this area.