Welcome back to our case studies series. This time we’ll be looking into university security and how technology is improving safety round campus. We’ll begin by looking into the current state of campus safety around the UK and see how technology is affecting and improving life for student, parent and security staff.

Part One

1. An introduction into university security 

2. Risks for students

Part Two

3. Technology to support security departments

4. Handling lost student property with tech

An introduction into university security

In 2019 students are paying £9k a year in tuition. Justifiably, they’ve come to expect a range of services from their universities that extend well beyond the classroom: from state-of-the-art libraries to a vibrant social calendar. With 130 British universities competing for their tuition fees students can afford to be picky: How nice are the university’s halls? What relationship does the university have with the business community and alumni? What’s on at the SU?

Universities in Britain

Importantly, among all these considerations that students weigh up, are questions of on-campus security and safety. The security departments at each university have lots to consider when it comes to protecting their students. We’ve looked at some of the challenges these unsung heroes face. Furthermore, we want to see how technology can be used to ease their workload, whilst maintaining the high levels of on-campus security students across the UK have come to expect as standard.

In 2018, Times High Education’s annual Student Experience Survey asked students about how safe they perceive their universities to be. The large majority were perceived by their students to be safe, reflecting the good work of their university security services.

Top 5 Safest UK Universities

THE Ranking Name of University Student Survey Score
1 University of Surrey  86.9
2 University of Bath  86.2
3 University of Chichester  85.6
3 Lancaster University  85.6
5 University of St. Andrews  85.5

Risks for students

For lots of young people, university means living away from home for the first time. They find themselves crowded in close quarters, in halls or shared houses. So, what are some of the risks that security campus staff need to consider when protecting students?


Statistically speaking, University students are more likely than average to be involved in incidents with fire—and not all just midnight microwave and popcorn mishaps. A survey conducted by public sector insurer Zurich Municipal and the National Union of Students (NUS) found that 81% of students regularly engage in activities that could lead to a fire. This includes cooking late at night and under the influence of alcohol, as well as decorating rooms with candles and fairy lights.

Recent fire in student house causing over £150,000 worth of damage full story at Windsor Star  

6% of calls to the London Fire Brigade in 2015 linked to university students in halls, although they make up just 0.4% of London’s population.


of all calls to London Fire Brigade by students in 2015


Percentage London's population that are students


With so much of UK students’ lives (both academic and social) conducted online, digital safety is absolutely paramount. Nefarious online actors threaten the privacy, finances, and identity of students. Phishing is a particularly new and vicious scourge threatening campus security. Targeting students via email and faux pop-ups, today’s cyber criminals seek access to the wealth of information accessible via a student log in, seeking financial and personal data, and even research, held by universities.

Information security firm Duo Security revealed that 72% of UK universities had experienced phishing attacks in the previous year. 7 universities, including Oxford, reported they had weathered more than 50 attacks in a mere 12-month period.


Of universities targeted by phishing attacks in a single year


Students are also more likely than the general public to be targeted by thieves. According to insurer DirectLine, one in four students will be the victim of theft while at university, with 600,000 student properties burgled each year. As an average student can carry around £2,000 to £4,000 of property to university, the losses can be substantial.

  • Amount of students who will be a victim of theft whilst at university 25% 25%


Not all valuables will be snatched from unlocked rooms or library tables. Sometimes students, navigating a full schedule of courses and parties with a rucksack full of electronics and books, simply leave possessions behind. All these lost items create another headache for university security teams, who have to ensure every item is logged and stored securely. They are also responsible for responding to enquiries and then subsequent disposal of unclaimed items.

On average 50 – 100 items are handed into campus lost property on a weekly basis

Estates management, Surveyed UK University

That’s it for part one of our look university security, in part 2 we conclude by looking into what tech is out there combating these risks.

Check out part 2 here.

Also we find out what measures universities are taking to guarantee the safety of our students, from the people putting in the hours. Namely, the estates management and security teams.

If you, yes you, work within higher education and feel your campus could benefit from a sustainable efficient lost property solution, please get in touch. We would love to arrange a demonstration and show how it can benefit your university.

Lastly, If you’ve enjoyed this case study into universities so far, why not check out our previous insights into shopping centres part 1 and part 2? Where we see how technology is improving customer experience in the UK. For all our platform benefits and case study work check out our industries page.

Until next time!