A global educational revolution is in the making. University attendance rates are skyrocketing at a dramatic rate. By 2040, there will be around 600 million students around the world enrolled at universities — up from roughly 216 million in 2016. Even with the global population changes adjusted, this translates into a 200 percent growth in the number of university students.
Numerous studies explore the “university effect”: Universities boost economic growth, innovation, human capital, and productivity — and they’re good for democracy too.
The exchanges and interactions that take place on these campuses might trigger the innovations to help humanity propel. However, when university campuses are such high-traffic ecosystems, they also have complex safety needs to ensure all the staff and students are thriving.
The following priorities for campus safety can help all higher-education institutions to maximize their potential by minimizing the everyday risks of campus life.
A Fireproof Education
From the cooking in dorms to experiments in a chemistry lab, a lot can happen in a campus to trigger a fire. Once set off, it can take less than five minutes for a fire to engulf an entire building. Especially in parts of the campus such as dormitories and lecture halls where large crowds stay under one roof, flames can quickly turn into a tragedy.
While local and regional fire safety regulations will differ, they’ll assign responsibilities to educational institutions to have efficient fire prevention and protection systems that are inclusive to people with disabilities too. Failing to meet these might have severe legal and human consequences.
Hence, educational institutions must take all the measures against fire risks. Fire alarm and sprinkler systems are integral parts of campus infrastructure. In case flames are large enough to spread from one room to another, “fire doors”, which are doors with fire-resistance rating, can slow down this process of spreading.
Furthermore, panic hardware, security locks, and emergency exit systems must be correctly specified and maintained to ensure the highest level of safety.
Preventing Theft Before It Happens
Half of the on-campus crimes are thefts, making it the most common criminal activity in educational institutions. From computers to smart devices or even robots, students of the information age often come to the campus carrying expensive belongings. Much of the on-campus thefts target these electronic devices. In addition to the financial and emotional burdens, even one stolen item might strain the academic progress of a student significantly.
However, some access and safety technologies can significantly decrease the risks of on-campus theft. For instance, locks that feature contactless card access with radio-frequency identification technology enable facility managers to limit access to residence halls. These entrances ensure it’s only the individual student that can access their designated living spaces, reducing a manifold of personal safety risks including theft.
Some of these entrance systems also feature a full audit trail function. Using this, facility managers can trace the lock usage, providing peace of mind for both students and staff alike.
Keeping the Intruders Out
Educational institutions facing criminal threats in their vicinity might benefit from the extra security of an entrance system that can facilitate a swift lockdown. Increasingly popular solutions to cater to this need are locks with an “intruder function“, which secure classrooms safely and reliably in a moment of emergency.
When a door has an intruder lock, the handle inside the room rotates freely, without any visible movement from outside. When any second counts, the staff can lock the exterior trim without stepping outside the classroom. However, the inside will always remain unlocked to allow occupants to leave the room at any time.
While many of the intruder locks are mechanical, evolving access control technologies are introducing smarter systems with digital features. The ability to control access and lock down a school using a button or a smartphone can save time when it counts most. Moreover, many users choose to boost the intruder locks with further safety measures like bullet-resistant doors, barricade devices, or panic hardware.
Safe Learning Environments With Smart Access Solutions
Education is one of the most fundamental catalysts for sustainable economic growth, global empowerment, and prosperity. Hence, “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” is a top priority of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals too.
Universities, and their campuses, provide countless benefits to achieve these goals locally and internationally. As the global appetite for higher education is on the rise, campus safety can enhance the far-reaching implications of these novel goals.