Securing university and college campuses

Education facilities have a duty of care to their staff, students, and visitors which will include ensuring they feel safe and secure while on campus.

While access gates or barriers have typically only been installed when there has been a security breach, increasingly we are seeing more pre-emptive security steps being implemented with universities and colleges taking proactive measures to mitigate the risks associated with unauthorised access.

In this article, we look at the common challenges faced by this sector together with the range of benefits that a well-planned, fully integrated entrance system can provide.

Tailgating & Preventing Unauthorised Access

Tailgating is described as the passage of unauthorised personnel, either forced or accidental, behind that of an authorised user.  It can be a common security problem, particularly for busy, multi-tenanted buildings.

This was the situation for Kirklees College as their Huddersfield site was often used as a short-cut for members of the public. The Glassgate 200 from Fastlane now ensures that access through the building is restricted to staff, students and approved visitors only. Plus, the 1.8 meter-high locking glass barriers provide a strong physical security deterrent too as they can’t be easily scaled.

Managing Flow Levels

Ensuring that areas with busy footfall are secure while also not creating a bottleneck can be a challenge for education facilities. This was a situation facing the University of Birmingham and their new £44million state-of-the-art library facility.

To address this issue, part of the library development involved the installation of seven customised Fastlane Glasswing lanes to ensure that only authorised library users are granted access, plus three of the lanes installed were bi-directional, allowing the University to change the direction of the lanes during peak times to better manage the flow of people entering or leaving the building.

The turnstiles can also provide disabled and delivery admission with widths up to 914mm, ensuring wheelchair access and compliance with DDA and ADA regulations.

By linking to your existing databases, sites are able to gather essential information and evaluate trends, particularly with regards to use of the facilities and activities. By mapping flows at peak times this allows for more informed programme planning, plus the scheduling of staff numbers or timings of breaks.

The University of Notre Dame’s addition of access gates at their dining facility removed the need for staff to manually check students in while they waited outside. Not only have the gates sped up the process, but using the access data they have been able to better plan their food production schedules.

Integration Improves Security and Overall Building Efficiency

With a range of other systems operating within an education facility, from fire alarms to lifts, being able to integrate an entrance control system with a range of other functions in order to improve security is a great advantage.

One of the key benefits of the Fastlane turnstiles is that they incorporate cutting-edge technology and can be upgraded as new developments and risks arise. The gates can be tailored to your specific requirements and work with your existing security and other building management systems.

For Cleveland State University a modification was made to the base unit, making the alarm sound louder and more obtrusive to enable it to better cut through even the loudest of student background noise.

Entrance systems can also be integrated with bespoke systems designed for specific locations, for example at Newcastle University, the turnstiles were integrated with a book detection system that locks the gates if a student tries to exit with a book that has not been correctly checked out.

The University of Strathclyde went one step further with its new state-of-the-art leisure centre. Integrated with access control readers and touch screen technology linked to the leisure management software, upon arrival users can select the activity they want to take part in, while simultaneously registering their attendance. RFID (radio frequency identification technology) wristbands and barcode readers were installed to allow entry to those using student cards as well as pay-as-you-go visitors.

Safety vs Design

One regular concern raised by academic institutions is that they want students to feel safe, but not caged in. We have therefore taken great time and effort to design turnstiles that are stylish, quiet and easy to use.

Using modern materials such as stainless steel and glass, they blend seamlessly into many entrance areas. We can also accommodate bespoke finishes and have even included custom monograms screen-printed on to the glass barriers.

This was the case with the University of Limerick where card readers were integrated with toughened and diamond treated protective glass, to prevent scratching, and a Telepen colour display module.

Phil Allen, Regional Sales Manager UK & Ireland at Integrated Design Limited, commented: “Working closely with Telepen, our expert technical team designed a bespoke alteration to the Fastlane Glasswing unit, allowing integration with Telepen’s software and card reader technology. Requests for bespoke alterations like these are simple for us to action because all of our products are manufactured in Britain from scratch to fulfil specific orders, rather than retro-fitted.”

Adapting academic buildings to cope with the new safety requirements presented by the pandemic has been a headache for many facilities management teams. Fortunately, the Fastlane gates have been one less concern as the turnstiles are largely contactless.

As the University of Greenwich found, when integrated with their data systems, they can ensure the number of students in a particular area doesn’t exceed that permitted by social distancing. Another benefit is that it identifies which students were where and at what time, making track and trace easier to implement.

Build Quality

With high footfall and the rigours of student use, the build quality of entrance systems is an important consideration for educational facilities.

All Fastlane turnstiles are made in-house by us in the UK, with our sales, technical and production teams located under one roof, allowing us to ensure quality levels are maintained as well as shortening the manufacturing and delivery timeline. Some of our turnstiles are often in stock, allowing for a quick installation which can be important when planning around the academic year.

Testament to the quality of our products, we frequently see repeat business from customers as their buildings are upgraded. This has been the case with the University of Manchester who has chosen our products three times now.

To find out more about the Fastlane range of products, or to arrange a Covid-safe demonstration at our showroom in West London, please contact our team by calling +44 (0)208 890 5550 or send us an email to