Institutions with centralized classroom scheduling are more likely to see higher room utilization rates and require fewer classrooms than institutions with decentralized scheduling processes. According to a recent space study, department-controlled classrooms hold an average nine classes per semester, while centrally controlled classrooms hold 13—almost 50% more. Central scheduling also has a meaningful impact on overall space efficiency. Institutions with central scheduling have on average 17% less space per student than those without it.
To better improve classroom utilization, institutions should incent colleges and departments to return classrooms to a central scheduling pool. We talked to three institutions that used space incentives to successfully increase the number of centrally scheduled classrooms.
1. Florida State University trades technology upgrades for ownership
Florida State University (FSU) assumes responsibility for repair and renovation costs and funds technology upgrades in any classroom that a department releases to central control. Since the program’s launch in 2000, FSU has installed technology upgrades in 268 rooms, increasing the share of centrally controlled rooms by 31%.
Institutions can offer to assume a variety of classroom costs in exchange for central control. For example, institutions that charge units for space (e.g., an operations and maintenance fee) may elect to waive any charges for classrooms that departments return to central control. Below are a few examples of charges institutions can cover to incentivize classroom centralization:
- Technology upgrades: Offer to pay for new technology if the department turns the room over to the central pool
- Repairs and renovations: Provide centralized funding for renovations and maintenance in centralized classrooms but not for departmentally owned classrooms
- Space charges: If your institution charges units for space offer to waive any charges (e.g., an operations and maintenance fee) for classrooms that departments return to central control
2. Penn State varies custodial cleaning standards based on room ownership
Pennsylvania State University uses tiered cleanliness standards for centralized and decentralized classrooms in order to make department-owned scheduled classrooms less appealing. In addition to other tiered services, centrally controlled classrooms are cleaned daily while department-owned classrooms are only cleaned twice a week.
Penn State's Approach to Classroom Maintenance
3. University of Wisconsin-Madison reclaims underutilized instructional space
The University of Wisconsin-Madison flags any room that fell below 67% utilization the previous semester, and the facilities leader discusses the space with the dean and department chair. The department can opt to create a plan to improve utilization, release the classroom to central scheduling, or allow Facilities to take the space offline.
Taking low-quality, low-utilization classrooms offline has two benefits:
- First, institutions can limit annual repair and utility costs necessary to keep low-quality space operating
- Second, institutions that must report classroom utilization rates to the system or state can increase their overall utilization rates by taking infrequently used rooms out of the calculation entirely
How you can reclaim underutilized faculty office space
Not only is office space per student growing, but it is growing faster than any other type of campus space. Read our excerpt to learn best practice strategies that will help you improve office space utilization, such as enforceable no-office protocols and voluntary office withdrawal incentives. Download the full excerpt
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Working with Academic Leaders to Improve Space Utilization