News release

Campus cleanliness and indoor air quality ranked in top three most important factors for college or university selection

A survey of parents with high school aged children considering a college or university highlights changing opinions post pandemic

July 27, 2021

CHICAGO, Jul. 27, 2021 – Since the pandemic brought upheaval to higher education, colleges and universities 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 JLL indicates that factors attributing to student health and safety are top of mind for parents. Forty-eight percent of parents with high schoolers rank campus cleanliness and indoor air quality 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 percent of parents rank campus cleanliness and indoor air quality 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.

“Proper indoor ventilation and air circulation occupied the spotlight across most industries in the height of the pandemic, with 59 percent of parents never even considering campus air quality prior to COVID-19,” said Ron Gregory, Executive Vice President North America, JLL Higher Education. “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.”

Forty-two percent 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. Eighty-six percent of parents rank the look and feel of campus as either important or somewhat important when it comes to college selection. And, 88 percent of parents said the physical condition of buildings was either very important or somewhat important.

“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,” said Kevin Wayer, President, JLL Public Institutions. “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 percent 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. Sixty percent 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, please visit:

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.6 billion in 2020, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 91,000 as of March 31, 2021. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit