University of Calgary

University of Calgary

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U of C Makes Data-Driven Space Utilization Improvements

Like many growing institutions, the University of Calgary struggles each year to prepare a balanced schedule of classes that offers a diverse group of academic programs. With new leadership on campus, growing enrolments, increased  diversification of the curriculum, an aging classroom inventory and little prospect  of new construction, many on campus felt that they were “out of space.”

Calgary’s Associate Vice Provost (Enrolment) and Registrar, David Johnston, was getting this message each term when reviewing the course schedule, but he knew from walking around campus that there were times when rooms would sit empty. As each new term approached, the University’s practice had been to roll forward the last term’s schedule into the new term. The increasing headache of timetabling course offerings helped Johnston realize that rolling forward was simply “making a bad schedule worse,” term by term.

At that point, Johnston knew that they needed more than conventional space utilization reports. He needed detailed analyses of the campus’ capacity and how to facilitate ongoing growth. After learning about the Strategic Scheduling Check-Up, the University of Calgary commissioned Ad Astra Information Systems to determine the cause of the empty classrooms and timetabling headaches for the enrolment office.

In addition to bottlenecks in large classrooms and ineffective use of some smaller rooms, the study highlighted that there was heavy usage of non-standard meeting patterns that created considerable inefficiencies. Each year’s traditional roll of the schedule simply reinforced the institutionalization of the irregularly scheduled classes. These findings supported the creation of a learning space advisory group to analyze the timetabling process and identify pain points and inefficiencies. With senior-level support, a new scheduling policy is being put in place that prioritizes scheduling around room optimization and student success. The group will continue to rely on reports from Ad Astra’s Platinum Analytics to help guide its decision making to manage and renovate spaces.

While changes such as the new scheduling policy are already helping with space challenges, Johnston knows that it is just the first stage of adjusting scheduling practices. U of C plans to leverage Astra Schedule, its scheduling and timetabling tool, to record and schedule all space in one system. Johnston notes, “Having a single software tool is of paramount importance.” This will allow U of C to implement and manage the new policy effectively and provide utilization reporting for continued improvement and success.

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