Purpose – This paper aims to explore the variables that affect the process of aligning Corporate Real Estate (CRE) with organizational goals on a strategic level, and regarding day-to-day operating activities in higher education institutes.Methodology/approach – The paper first outlines theoretical issues of CRE alignment processes in general. It then presents the findings from 13 interviews with CRE managers who are responsible for the accommodation of large Dutch Universities of Applied Sciences. Findings – The review of CRE theory shows three key CRE alignment process activities and six variables that influence these activities. The empirical study shows how these variables can be used to distinct two extreme strategies for CRE alignment processes, based on control-orientation and involvement-orientation. Originality/value – There are two gaps in research literature on CRE alignment processes. First, there is a need for better CRE alignment tools and techniques with a solid empirical basis. Secondly, the managerial decision-making regarding space issues and its effects on students and staff in higher education is an under exposed topic in CRE research. There is still limited understanding of how to optimally align educational buildings to education. The current research provides practitioners and researchers insights in possible CRE alignment strategies and underlying variables in the field of higher education. The findings might be applicable in other sectors as well.