Frequently asked questions

  • On this page you will find frequently asked questions about the rebalancing of our Oxford-based activity. Questions are grouped into the following sections:

    About the new configuration

    Harcourt Hill Campus

    Headington Campus

    Wheatley Campus

    Additional questions


    Why does the University need to invest?

    Oxford Brookes has always attracted some of the highest calibre staff and students entering Higher Education. The University plays a vital role in the local community, providing an often significant proportion of the county’s highly skilled workforce in areas such as nursing, architecture and engineering. In order to continue to fulfil this role, it is essential that the University can continue to provide the best possible experience for its students and staff.

    Over the last few years, the Higher Education sector has become more competitive and Oxford Brookes University needs to ensure that its excellent reputation for teaching and research is matched by a high-quality estate. The University knows that the physical environment is an important factor for students when choosing where to study, with 77% saying that facilities play a significant role in their university choice. Staff and students at Brookes also know, from recent experience, the transformative impact of new facilities and buildings, with the John Henry Brookes Building in Headington and the Joel Joffe building in Swindon. These recent projects bring together teaching rooms, library, student support services along with social learning facilities to significantly enhance the learning and working environment for our students and staff.

    Oxford Brookes continues to move towards a student-centred, integrated and sustainable campus environment which reinforces the University’s identity and guiding principles to continue attracting high-calibre staff and students. With this in mind, the University is working on an estate investment programme which will see £220 million invested on the Headington and Harcourt Hill campuses over the next ten years.

    Why does the University need to rebalance its activity between campuses?

    The University has more space than it needs and, as such, the Board of Governors has decided to sell the Wheatley Campus. This, together with a continued downward trend in the number of students on the Harcourt Hill Campus over the last few years and the resulting underutilisation of the site, means that the University has needed to review the balance of our provision between our two Oxford-based campuses.

    What are the benefits of moving from three campuses to two?

    The University currently has more estate than we need. The condition of our wider estate is well below that of the sector average and a significant backlog maintenance cost has already accumulated. Moving to two campuses provides the University with an opportunity to focus its investment on two campuses, providing new and refurbished facilities which match the quality of our teaching and research.


    About the new configuration

    What is the vision for the two Oxford-based campuses?

    The vision is for two, Oxford-based campuses with different size and character but with equal status which provide excellent facilities and spaces to support the delivery of an outstanding student and staff experience. We will build on the recent redevelopment successes and create further student-centred, integrated and sustainable, high-quality campus environments.

    This will require more than a series of building and refurbishment projects. It will require a fundamental look at the way we support academic activities, students and staff on each campus. A Service Delivery Group will be established to scope and manage the necessary changes to support an equivalent experience.

    Which departments will be based at Harcourt Hill Campus?

    The School of Education and Institute of Public Care, along with courses in philosophy and religion are part of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), are currently based at Harcourt Hill Campus and will remain.

    In the new configuration, we will be bringing the other departments within that faculty all together, these are:

    • Department of English and Modern Languages
    • Department of Social Sciences
    • Institute of Public Care
    • School of Education
    • School of History, Philosophy and Culture
    • School of Law

    Current draft timescales envisage these moves taking place in the next three to five years.

    In addition, the Sports, Coaching and Physical Education element of the Department of Sport and Health Sciences, is currently based at Harcourt Hill and will remain. Courses in Sports and Exercise Science will move from Headington to Harcourt Hill Campus. The wider Department will be split between Headington and Harcourt Hill to make the best use of both campuses. This will allow our sports-related teaching to make use of purpose-designed facilities to not only offer enhanced provision for student and community use but create state of the art spaces for our academic courses.

    Which departments will be based at Headington Campus?

    The new configuration will see Headington Campus as the home to the faculties of Technology, Design and Environment; the majority of Health and Life Sciences; and the Oxford Brookes Business School.

    The Oxford Brookes Business School is expected to move from Wheatley Campus and Headington’s Fuller building into the fully refurbished Clerici building from September 2017.

    The departments of Computing and Communication Technologies and Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences is expected to move from Wheatley Campus by 2021/2022.

    The reprovision of these departments’ specialist facilities will be carefully planned and will incorporate a purpose built facility to inspire advances in technology and engineering. The project will bring together related courses in professional-standard spaces built to industry specifications, subject to the necessary planning approvals.

    And as is the case currently, the Department of Sport and Health Sciences will be split between Headington and Harcourt Hill to make the best use of both campuses. Occupational therapy, physiotherapy, rehabilitation and nutrition will continue to be taught in Headington to make use of the state of the art laboratories. Sports-related teaching will be taught at Harcourt Hill and will benefit from enhanced sporting facilities at the campus.

    The academic departments based at Headington Campus in the new configuration will be:

    • Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment (TDE): School of Arts; School of the Built Environment; School of Architecture and the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development; Department of Computing and Communication Technologies; and Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.
    • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences (HLS): Department of Biological and Medical Sciences; Department of Nursing; part of the Department of Sport and Health Sciences; Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health; and the Department of Applied Health and Professional Development.
    • Oxford Brookes Business School: Oxford School of Hospitality Management; Accounting, Finance and Economics; Business and Management; and Marketing.

    How was the reconfiguration of activity across both campuses decided?

    Over the summer academic departments completed detailed information to help provide a clear picture of space and co-location needs. Information included key academic relationships, shared research, specialist facilities and joint honours programmes. This data was used to map relationships between departments and future space needs to help shape the final configuration.

    Key principles for the decision making process included providing an outstanding student and staff experience, co-locating closely related departments, reducing the amount of travel between the two campuses, maximising use of shared specialist facilities and enabling enhancement and re-provision of sports facilities.

    A wide range of options was considered and refined before a unanimous decision was made by the University’s Senior Management Team.


    Harcourt Hill Campus

    What is the vision for Harcourt Hill Campus to support the new configuration?

    Work on a new vision for Harcourt Hill Campus’ built environment is in very early stages. Building on the successes of the John Henry Brookes Building in Headington and the new Joel Joffe Building in Swindon, the project aims to provide inspiring teaching and learning spaces and support alongside an enhanced provision for sports.

    An early master planning exercise has explored the potential of the campus and includes the need to: create a welcoming arrival point; explore greater use of the chapel; and potentially develop a new build, as well as highlighting areas for refurbishment or demolition.

    An initial view outlines a new approach and main entrance to the campus along with a pedestrian street leading through the campus, creating a coherent route with easy access to all buildings. The appearance and functionality of many of the existing buildings could be transformed, creating a modern, vibrant campus environment with improved sustainability and great facilities.

    A new building could be developed on the site of the demolished former halls of residence and linked with the Sports Centre. The Sports Centre could also be refurbished and extended and, along with the new build, could create a new hub for Harcourt Hill students bringing together library, social space and support services alongside sports facilities. Sports facilities will be purpose-designed to not only offer enhanced facilities for student and community use but to provide state of the art spaces for our sports-related teaching.

    Use of the existing chapel could also be explored, for example as a learning space, quiet study space or for a more social use.

    So far the work has focused on the available floor space and the potential in terms of buildings on the campus. A Harcourt Hill Redevelopment Steering Group will be convened to oversee the development of campus plans.

    The University will be dependent on feedback from staff, students and the local community to help shape the redevelopment plans for the campus.

    What new build will be taking place at Harcourt Hill Campus?

    From initial considerations of the potential of the Harcourt Hill Campus, we are looking to explore the development of a multi-function building, smaller in scale but similar in use to John Henry Brookes Building in Headington. This building would incorporate a new library space, teaching rooms and open learning space for collaborative and individual working and the delivery of key student services. This building could be located on the site of former demolished halls of residence and could provide a strong connection between the campus and a refurbished Sports Centre.

    At this stage no decisions have been made and over the coming months staff, students and the local community will have the opportunity to feed into development plans for the campus. Plans for a new building are subject to the necessary planning approvals.

    What are the timescales for redevelopment work at Harcourt Hill?

    At this stage timescales are still in draft form. It is currently expected that the new campus configuration will be in place within five years, with moves taking place in the next three to five years. The move of departments to Harcourt Hill will follow the completion of a new building. The programme for refurbishment will be developed with staff working on the campus to ensure disruption to teaching and research is minimised as much as possible. Over the coming months more information on proposals and timescales for redevelopment at Harcourt Hill will be made available.

    The University mentions equivalency for Harcourt Hill and Headington campuses, what does that mean?

    The rebalancing of activity is aimed at creating two campuses in Oxford, with different size and character but with equal status. The decision to re-balance our activity provides an opportunity for the University to review the provision of services across both campuses. Over the last 18 months, a group from across the University was convened to discuss the factors necessary to create two equivalent campuses, these included access to student and staff support services along with campus attractiveness and identity.

    Consultation will take place with staff on these and other principles in more detail over the coming months.

    The outcomes of this work will be taken forward by a Service Delivery Group tasked with addressing this important issue.

    What additional amenities are currently being considered?

    As part of the campus equivalency work, additional amenities will be considered and staff and students will be consulted on the amenities they would find most helpful. For example at our Headington Campus, we have a number of amenities that are well used by staff, students and also the local community. This includes a bank, shop, range of cafes and catering outlets, a range of sports facilities and a nursery.

    As well as additional amenities, we need to improve and enhance the sports facilities at Harcourt Hill Campus to create great spaces and integrate teaching needs of the parts of the Department of Sport and Health Sciences based at Harcourt Hill, as well as to replace those lost from our withdrawal from Wheatley Campus. Our facilities are currently well used by local authorities, summer schools and the community and we want to create facilities which best meet the needs of all users.

    What are the likely timescales for staff and students moving from Headington to Harcourt Hill Campus?

    The move of the current activity from Headington to Harcourt Hill will need to be carefully managed to ensure minimal disruption to teaching, learning and research activities.

    Plans are still in the initial stages but we currently expect those departments moving to Harcourt Hill Campus to do so following the completion of a new building, subject to the necessary planning approvals. Current draft timescales envisage these moves taking place in the next three to five years.

    Which professional services staff will be based at Harcourt Hill?

    The current configuration includes space for approximately 60 directorate staff. Although the exact number and function of the directorate staff has not yet been decided. Decisions on the reconfiguration of activity have been led by the University’s academic portfolio; the location of professional services will also be considered in due course to best support the academic provision.

    Final location of professional services staff will come out of consultation on campus equivalency and the Delivery Service Group’s discussion.

    Will there be job losses as a result of the moves?

    There are no expected job losses as a result of the moves to Harcourt Hill Campus.

    What will the staff space at Harcourt Hill be like following the redevelopment?

    Decisions on staff offices and related space have not yet been made. Plans will be developed with staff who will be based on the campus and will be designed to best support their needs within the University’s space guidance.

    What does the reconfiguration mean for current Humanities and Social Sciences students?

    Current students are unlikely to be affected by the moves. All prospective students will be informed of the University’s plans to improve its facilities. Future students who will be affected by changes of location will be given tailored information and support in advance of, during and after the move to ensure a smooth transition and limit disruption on their studies.

    How will student numbers change at Harcourt Hill?

    Changes in popularity of certain courses and the proportion of students who do work placement as part of their training has resulted in fewer students studying on-campus in the last few years. One of the key principles in rebalancing activity is to ensure Harcourt Hill is a vibrant campus which means the number of campus-based students will increase.

    How will the split of the Department of Sport and Health Sciences across two campuses work in practice?

    This Department is already split across two campuses to make use of specialist facilities and we will be building on existing good practice to best support cross-departmental working.

    Sports-related teaching will help shape and make use of the enhanced sports provision at Harcourt Hill through state of the art laboratories and test facilities within an extended and refurbished Sports Centre.

    The Movement Science Laboratory and CLEAR unit / Centre for Rehabilitation are currently and will remain located in Headington to support their focus on clinical research related to health and disease. Headington allows strong links with the NHS hospitals, the Oxford Institute for Nursing and Allied Health Research and cognate areas of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, like Physiotherapy. Space for these activities has already been accommodated in the plans for the Sinclair refurbishment.

    What are the plans for the chapel as part of the redevelopment at Harcourt Hill Campus?

    The redevelopment programme for the campus is only at the earliest of stages and as such we are currently exploring the campus' potential.

    The chapel is a valued feature of Harcourt Hill Campus. Initial work is exploring options for the use of the chapel. No decisions have been made and consultation on the chapel and the wider campus redevelopment plans will take place in due course.

    Will the Sports Centre close during its refurbishment?

    We are investing in sports facilities at Harcourt Hill to offer improved, high quality facilities for our students and staff and to ensure the Sports Centre remains a valuable asset to the local community.

    This will involve the refurbishment and possible extension of the Sports Centre, and so will likely mean some unavoidable disruption for users in the future while the work is carried out.

    However the University will work to ensure this is as minimal as possible and that all users are kept informed accordingly. This will be the same for all facilities on the campus.

    What student accommodation is currently available at Harcourt Hill Campus?

    Westminster Hall is our newest halls of residence and was built in 2012. It has a capacity of 318 rooms, a combination of ensuite, single study bedrooms and studio flats for couples.

    Harcourt Hill Hall are our older residences, with a capacity of 110 rooms including 21 newly refurbished non-ensuite rooms.


    Headington Campus

    What are the development plans for Headington Campus?

    Work is currently underway at Headington Campus on the Clerici and Sinclair buildings. The Clerici building will become the new home of the School of Business and will provide new teaching rooms and social learning space along with a collaborative lecture theatre seating just under 100 students. It will also include a new flexible Main Hall for teaching, exams and large events like graduation.

    The Sinclair building is also undergoing refurbishment to provide new state-of-the-art laboratories for teaching and research within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

    Future projects which are still to be agreed are expected to include the redevelopment of the Helena Kennedy building, the Sports Centre, Fuller, Tonge and the original half of Abercrombie.

    At Marston Road, the University will continue to invest in maintaining the site but there are no current plans to extensively refurbish the existing buildings. Over the next ten years the University will consider how to better co-locate the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.


    Wheatley Campus

    What will happen to the Wheatley Campus?

    The University’s Board of Governors have decided to sell the Wheatley Campus. The University’s charitable status means that we have an obligation to get the best value in the sale of the site and this is likely to involve redeveloping the site for housing. The University is currently pursuing this option with South Oxfordshire District Council; however the possibility of some or all of the site being re-used for a use other than housing cannot be discounted at this stage.

    We will continue to engage with the local community and representatives on future use of the site. There will be opportunities for information and consultation throughout the sale process.

    When will the Wheatley Campus close?

    All activity is currently expected to move from Wheatley Campus by 2021/2022. The School of Business is set to move into the refurbished Clerici building on the Headington Campus for September 2017. The departments of Computing and Communications Technology and Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences are expected to move to the Headington Campus by 2021/2022.

    The reprovision of these departments’ specialist facilities will be carefully planned and will incorporate a purpose built facility to inspire advances in technology and engineering. The project will bring together related courses in professional-standard spaces built to industry specifications, subject to the necessary planning approvals. These facilities will be developed with staff and students and there will be information and consultation opportunities for the local community.

    What will happen at Wheatley Campus between now and 2021/2022?

    The departments of Computing and Communication Technologies and Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences along with the Directorate of Human Resources and all support facilities are due to move from the Wheatley Campus by 2021/22. It is absolutely vital that, during this period, students and staff continue to have an excellent experience on the Wheatley Campus. The Wheatley Campus Experience Group is in the final stages of agreeing the future configuration of the Wheatley Campus, which will see use of and investment in the best quality buildings on the campus, as well as enhanced social learning provision and improvements to the overall look and feel of the campus.

    Will key functions like catering, the library and the BROOKESbus service remain at Wheatley once the School of Business has moved?

    Oxford Brookes is committed to providing the best possible student experience and will ensure that catering, the library and other support services are maintained at Wheatley until the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment has moved. Some services, such as the BROOKESbus, may be tailored to best suit the needs of the students and staff using the service.

    Will the BROOKESbus service to Wheatley continue after all planned moves have taken place?

    We expect that facilities will move from Wheatley Campus by 2021/22. BROOKESbus services to support the staff and students on that campus will continue during that time. The University will be reviewing the routes and frequency of the BROOKESbus service more widely to take into account the two Oxford-based campus configuration. More information will be available as plans are developed.

    Where will Human Resources (including OCSLD) move to?

    The Directorate of Human Resources (including the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development) will remain at Wheatley in the short term and options are currently being explored for relocating the team to better quality accommodation on the Wheatley Campus as part of the interim plans for Wheatley.

    No decisions have been made on the future location for Human Resources. Staff will be kept informed and will be consulted, once draft proposals have been developed.

    What will happen for other Wheatley directorate staff, for example catering, library and EFM support staff?

    Support services will remain at Wheatley until the move of all academic activity, which we currently expect to take place by 2021/22. The University has a strong track record of redeploying staff if it becomes necessary when services need to change. As the date for withdrawal from Wheatley approaches, we will look to implement similar procedures to previous changes – this includes not externally recruiting in order to redeploy existing staff. Directorate staff who are concerned about these changes are encouraged to attend staff briefings, where there will be the opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts.

    Will there be any job losses as a result of the closure of the Wheatley Campus?

    As previously communicated with the intention to withdraw the Wheatley Campus, the University has a strong track record of minimising job losses as a result of changes to service and as the timescales for moving activity between the campuses are finalised we will look to implement similar procedures to previous changes. This includes not recruiting to similar posts in the organisation to enable redeployment of existing staff.


    Additional questions

    How will the University fund this activity?

    The configuration is being funded as part of the wider estate investment plan. The University is investing in our campuses to create a more efficient and cost effective estate. Funding will come from a number of sources, including: cash generated from the current planned surpluses; capital receipts; any capital grants we are able to secure; any funds released from reorganising the University’s existing borrowing; and any philanthropic donations.

    Is the University planning to grow its student numbers?

    The University has a policy of 1-2% student number growth. A graph illustrating past, present and predicted future student numbers is available here.

    How do these plans link to the University’s developing student residential strategy?

    The future configuration of Oxford Brookes’ campuses, coupled with the increasing demand and the age of some of our existing accommodation, means that we will need to rebalance our provision of student accommodation across the city.

    It is recognised that, in the first instance, the better use of the University’s current sites could make a significant contribution to meeting the need of students.

    An early priority in our new residential strategy is to roll out an extensive refurbishment programme for our older halls of residence to ensure we are providing high quality student accommodation which meets student expectations and continues to attract students to live in our halls. In some cases this may involve demolition and rebuild in order to meet the needs of today’s students.

    We will also need to bring more accommodation into our portfolio to enable us to manage the number of students who live in the local community progressively over the next ten years.

    We understand that delivering additional student residential accommodation in Oxford will require careful thought and close work with councils and local communities both at Harcourt Hill and Headington.

    With the planned increase in activity at Harcourt Hill Campus, there will be an increase in on-campus students and this will need to be supported by appropriate residential provision.

    From early community feedback, we know there is a strong desire to meet the increased usage of Harcourt Hill by building additional student accommodation on-campus and we will explore viable opportunities as part of our overall plans.

    For more information see our developing residential strategy.

    Will there be changes to the BROOKESbus service as part of the new configuration?

    We will review our transport strategy to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our students and staff. With the rebalancing of activity across Headington and Harcourt Hill campuses, there may be a need to adapt the BROOKESbus service to ensure this is tailored to journeys made by staff and students – as well as considering the local community, who also use these services.

    This could include the introduction of new routes to better reflect common staff and student journeys, including during key commuting hours. The University will also continue to encourage staff and students to use sustainable means of travelling to our sites, promoting a range of discounts and offers.

    Will there be changes to on-campus car parking provision as part of the new campus configuration?

    There is limited parking provision across our campuses and the University has a strong commitment to promoting sustainable travel, supporting both students and staff to use public transport, car share and use other forms of transport, such as cycling.

    Currently, staff may park at either campus if they qualify for a parking permit. Students are not permitted to park at Headington or, on the whole, at Harcourt Hill – although a limited number may park at the latter if they are studying certain courses (and required for travel during placement). These restrictions do not apply to Blue Badge holders or motorcycles.

    In early 2017, the University will implement a new way of managing its car parks, ensuring enforcement is fairer and introducing a new daily charge, designed to encourage alternative means of travelling to campus. This policy was worked up in conjunction with the Travel to Work Group, which has representatives from across the University and from trade unions.

    Guidance from Oxford City Council is clear that the University will not be allowed to create additional parking capacity in Headington.

    How will building work be managed?

    There may be some unavoidable disruption as a result of redevelopment or refurbishment activity; however the University has an experienced team and a process in place to ensure works are managed, carefully planned and communicated to minimise disruption wherever possible.

    What does this mean for student recruitment?

    The investment plan will improve the facilities available to students over the coming years and will also improve the University’s reputation. All prospective students will be informed of the University’s plans to improve its facilities and students who will be affected by changes of location will be given tailored information. New specialist facilities will be developed to meet the quality of those used in professional practice.

    There may be some unavoidable disruption as a result of redevelopment or refurbishment activity; however the University has an experienced team and a process in place to ensure works are managed, carefully planned and communicated to minimise disruption wherever possible.

    What measures will be put in place to support staff who are moving?

    Staff will be fully supported throughout this period with any questions or queries they may have about the changes. Staff who are concerned about these changes are encouraged to speak to their line managers and attend staff briefings, where there will be the opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts.

    The University recognises that the moves will impact some members of staff more than others, in terms of travel arrangements, childcare or carer responsibilities, and will be working with those staff to look at options available and reasonable measures to minimise this as much as possible.

    Does the plan include any work at Swindon Campus?

    The current estate investment programme is focused on our Oxford-based campuses. In August 2016, Oxford Brookes moved to a new larger campus in Swindon. The University has been offering courses in the town for over 17 years and specialise in Nursing and Operating Department Practice and Certified Professional Development courses. The new campus is located on the Delta Business Park and provides a modern teaching and learning environment along with professionally equipped clinical skills suites.