The University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) commissioned us to undertake a utilisation audit of their campus working and learning spaces to help plan for the growing demand for teaching facilities and study spaces, and to future proof their campus.

A group of enumerators audited the hourly measure of room usage frequency and occupancy during a busy mid-semester week. We then conducted qualitative surveys to solicit feedback from faculty members and students on their perception towards the university’s management of campus space.

The analysis of teaching, learning, and meeting spaces indicated a general underutilisation, attributed to an inefficient space management system. Key issues include a discrepancy between planned and actual occupancy, lack of validation for space usage, and incomplete integration of rooms into the central booking system. These discrepancies created a false perception of constant unavailability, as highlighted by dissatisfaction among academic staff despite a space audit indicating underused capacity.

With these findings, we recommended for a robust centralised booking, attendance and space management system to optimise university space booking and distribution, aiming for increased utilisation.

Data insight and analytics

During our analysis of the space, we identified three critical points: how the university’s assets were being utilised, where their shortcomings lay, and what implementations were needed. 

We leveraged the practice of space utilisation to measure how intensively the spaces were being used, to find solutions for the client’s problem statements which include: 

  • What is the current capacity of the university’s spaces for teaching, learning and working spaces?
  • Are the current spaces allocated sufficiently for their usage?
  • Which spaces are underutilised, at capacity, or over-utilised?
  • What are the usage trends of these space throughout a teaching week?

We assessed and compared our findings against global standard trends in the education sector. Based on the analysis of the data for teaching, learning and meeting spaces, we find that generally these spaces were underutilised which could be due to an inefficient system for space management. This audit serves to provide better clarity to allow the university to better manage its spaces and enable informed space planning in the future.

UNM has re-commissioned us to lead the second phase of this project, which will concentrate on workspace across the campus, building on the analysis of learning spaces and ensuring the data on space usage is more holistic in nature.