What We Learned – Campus Space Utilization

College and university enrollment is shifting. Campus technology needs are changing. Funding is a constant challenge. Yet at schools across North America these complex problems are all being met with the same solution: new teaching space. But is that the right move? We partnered with American School & University and key decision-makers from Wesleyan University and the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith for a webinar to discuss how colleges and universities can use to data to evaluate whether they are making effective use of their current spaces. This is what we learned.

1. On college campuses, expansion is the new norm. But maybe it shouldn’t be.

A full 80 percent—that’s right, 8 in 10—campuses grew in the last ten years. The goals of this growth sound reasonable. New teaching spaces can attract bright students, maintain enrollment and keep pace with instructors’ evolving tech needs. But sounding reasonable and having the data to back it up are two different things. A space utilization study can uncover the realities of how current learning spaces are used. For example, the typical U.S. classroom is occupied less than 60 percent of available hours. It’s possible that some of that campus growth is unnecessary.A typical U.S. classroom is occupied less than 60% of available hours.

2. Students are headed west. Hope the schools are ready.

The projections for higher education enrollment look great for schools in Colorado, Utah, Texas and other states west of the Mississippi. The number of students enrolled in western colleges and universities is project to increase by more than 7.5 percent by 2029. Great news for those schools. Their challenge now is to assess their readiness for the influx of students and determine whether they have enough of the right space to accommodate all the new faces on campus.

Enrollment Changes – Trends Vary by State

2012-2029 ProjectionsMap of 2012-2019 projections for enrollment changes.

3. Space utilization data can help schools steer resources.

All three university speakers told stories about how they used space utilization data to make serious financial decisions.

Space utilization has become invaluable to us in the planning process.

Brandi Hood, Senior Program Planner, and Jeff Murphy, Facilities Business Manager, of Wesleyan University shared how they initiated a space utilization project to decide whether spending $5 million to repurpose campus spaces to temporarily house classes was a wise investment. Dr. Brad Sheriff, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration at University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, told a story of how the university used space utilization data to offline two older buildings.

Learn more about current campus space trends and how schools and universities are using space utilization data to plan smarter by watching the on demand webinar.