Campus cleanliness and IAQ ranked among top 3 college selection factors this year

by Brianna Crandall — September 13, 2021 — Since the pandemic brought upheaval to higher education, colleges and JLL logouniversities have faced daily challenges in ensuring the health and safety of current students and staff, while restoring prospective student confidence as decisions are made about whether continuing their education is the right choice — and where.

A new survey by global real estate and professional services firm JLL indicates that factors attributing to student health and safety are top of mind for parents. A full 48% of parents with high schoolers rank campus cleanliness and indoor air quality (IAQ) in the top three most important factors when asked their opinion on their child’s impending college or university selection, and a total of 84% of parents rank campus cleanliness and IAQ as either important or somewhat important. Quality of academics took the top spot of importance according to surveyed parents followed by affordability of college or university.

Ron Gregory, executive vice president North America, JLL Higher Education, stated:

Proper indoor ventilation and air circulation occupied the spotlight across most industries in the height of the pandemic, with 59 % of parents never even considering campus air quality prior to Covid-19. As people are more aware of their surroundings that impact their health and safety with greater reason, we can expect that students and staff on campuses will continue to demand transparency and the highest standards around cleanliness and air quality.”

Fully 42% of parents noted that their sentiment towards campus cleanliness and indoor air quality increased as a result of Covid-19. While transparency around campus cleanliness and air quality remains top of mind, the way prospective students and their families perceive the health and safety of campus based upon appearance could also play a pivotal role in the decision process. A vast majority (86%) of parents rank the look and feel of campus as either important or somewhat important when it comes to college selection. And 88% of parents said the physical condition of buildings was either very important or somewhat important.

Kevin Wayer, president, JLL Public Institutions, remarked:

From simple fixes like upgrading lightbulbs to harnessing new technologies across a campus, preventative maintenance is key for schools empowering vibrant campus experiences — before the physical condition of buildings becomes a turn off to prospective students. Savings generated from preventative maintenance can go back into facilities upkeep, creating an overall better, cleaner and more modern experience for students.

Environmental sustainability has also emerged as a major factor in student recruitment and to nearly every major university stakeholder, from students and faculty to parents and alumni. The survey found that 21% of parents became more interested in a school’s commitment to sustainability than they were before the pandemic, demonstrating the importance of a continued focus on sustainability when updating and developing new campus buildings.

Additionally, as more than 570 schools across the U.S. have implemented a vaccine mandate for students returning to their campus this upcoming school year, the survey also asked parents on how important a Covid-19 vaccine mandate is when considering a college or university for their child. A full 60% of surveyed parents responded with very important or somewhat important.

Conducted in partnership with Engine Insights in June 2021, the JLL Higher Education survey was based on a sample of 500 parents of 10th – 12th grade high school students considering higher education.

For more information on the JLL Higher Education industry practice, visit the JLL website.