Looking across all of the main university websites in the UK, there are 14 which currently use Drupal as their content management system. Considering that there are around 130 universities in the UK, ~10% of them using the CMS is a pretty good adoption rate for the open source platform and based on discussions we’ve been having with universities, this figure will surely rise in the coming months.
In this article we’ll identify which UK universities are using Drupal and how they’re using it. If you have any questions about Drupal, feel free to contact us.
So which universities currently use it?
Based on research carried out in July 2017, these are the universities currently using Drupal in addition to which version they’re currently using:
Bournemouth University (Drupal 7)
Cambridge University (Drupal 7)
Heythrop College (Drupal 7)
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (Drupal 8)
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (Drupal 7)
Oxford University (Drupal 7)
Royal Agricultural University(Drupal 7)
Surrey University (Drupal 7)
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (Drupal 7)
University of Chester (Drupal 7)
University of Chichester (Drupal 7)
University of Suffolk (Drupal 7)
University of West London (Drupal 7)
University of Westminster (Drupal 8)
How Universities are using Drupal
As expected, universities are using Drupal as a content management platform. No surprises there.
But looking at how universities operate, the reality of building and managing websites for a wide variety of faculties, research projects, marketing and recruitment campaigns, and more - all in a sustainable way that integrates with existing systems - is actually quite challenging. Fortunately, Drupal is well-suited for such challenges.
The Challenge of Centralising Web Projects
One of the biggest challenges for university web development teams is fully supporting multiple faculties and their website requirements, whether that’s a new site, design edits, new functionality, security patches, etc. These requirements can quickly pile up and 3rd party agencies are often needed to provide extra development capacity to meet faculty demands.
If faculties use digital suppliers recommended by their web development teams, website projects should be consistent with the university’s branding, CMS preference, and more. The agencies they prefer to work with should be like an extension of the in-house team.
There is, however, the chance of rogue departments working with other digital agencies and stepping away from the university’s centralised web development standards.
The risk of faculties going their own way can lead to increased web development costs for building and maintaining a variety of platforms, inconsistencies in university branding, performance reporting difficulties and overall a less sustainable digital approach.
Drupal = Centralised Content Model
A popular reason for adopting Drupal is the CMS’ flexibility to support a centralised, hub and spoke content model whereby a single platform codebase is maintained at the core (the hub), containing key university content and design components, and sub-sites for faculties that can be built and launched quickly (the spokes).
Having reusable and configurable components in place for all core site functions also frees up developers to focus on creating new and exciting functionality. Here’s how MTV used this approach to launch new, content rich websites in international markets in a matter of weeks: MTV Drupal project case study.
Using this approach, new functionality can be developed centrally and rolled out as required to faculty sub-sites in an almost drag and drop fashion. The same goes for security patches and design updates.
Oxford University’s Drupal-Based Platform Mosaic
A picture is worth a thousand words as they say, so here’s a video from IWMW17 of Oxford University’s Drupal-based web publishing platform Mosaic and how they went about building it. This is a great example of how to build a user-centric, cost-effective CMS that centralises web development standards across university faculties.
And here are the Slideshare slides:
Get in touch
If you’d like to find out more about UK universities using Drupal, feel free to contact us.
Wunder is working with universities across Europe, such as UCL, University of Helsinki, and University of Tartu, delivering Drupal projects through our proven agile approach. We're more than happy to discuss how Drupal could work for you.