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Is poor facilities management costing higher ed billions?

By Meris Stansbury, Managing Editor, @eSN_Meris
January 25th, 2016

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Report from facilities management company says colleges and universities could drastically improve the allocation of faculty and space.

facilities-managment-educationHigher education, nationally, could save roughly $14.7B by tightening the use of their facilities and better manage course scheduling. That’s just one major finding of a recent report that aims to help the higher education arena cut costs and ease tuition burdens by examining facilities management.

Ad Astra Information Systems, L.L.C.—a company that offers data-informed software solutions and professional services to help allocate space and faculty resources, forecast student demand, and accelerate student completions—has collaborated with more than 800 campuses and many state systems toward what the company says is “effective stewardship of instructional resources and improving student outcomes.”

This report from the company reflects national averages derived from its Information Systems’ Higher Education Scheduling Index (HESI) database of 114 colleges and universities. The performance metrics track allocation of faculty and space on these campuses.

The HESI metrics aim to provide the context for comparing institutional performance to the industry and a subset of like institutions. It also provides a framework to measure and “more effectively manage the highly decentralized model of scheduling employed on campuses today,” notes the report.

“Student success and finances are the two biggest concerns in higher education today,” said Tom Shaver, Ad Astra’s founder and CEO. “An argument could be made that the most important opportunity to address these concerns is effective allocation of faculty and space. Our extensive research and experience in the industry has demonstrated that strategic scheduling can provide solutions for each of these challenges.”

According to the Chronicle’s Almanac (2013-14), institutions spend roughly 58 percent of their core operating budget on faculty and academic space—approximately $147 billion spent annually as an industry (not including capital expenditures for new space and renovation).

But, emphasizes the report, “very few campuses are actually out of space, and new space is a luxury many can’t afford.”

(Next page: The report’s findings on higher ed’s facilities management)


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