A ‘secret’ database showing the poor condition of many university halls of residence and non-residential buildings – including in some cases those deemed ‘inoperable’ because they are in breach of fire regulations – has been published by the Guardian newspaper.
The database has been the subject of a two-year legal tussle by the newspaper, which ended when an information tribunal ruled that it was in the public interest to release the data.
The information – held by the Higher Education Funding Council for England – reveals that scores of university halls of residence and other buildings were judged “at serious risk of major failure or breakdown” and “unfit for purpose”. At the most extreme, these buildings could break fire regulations, have leaks and be subject to rot.
According to the Guardian, the database shows that more than 90% of higher education establishments had at least 10% of their building stock judged below the “sound and operationally safe” category”. One in 10 institutions had at least 10% of their estate categorised as inoperable and at serious risk of major breakdown.
Universities respond saying they have invested many millions of pounds in their buildings since the assessments were made two years ago.