Space Allocation and Management in Universities


Space Allocation and Management in Universities


Time period:

06/2011 - 07/2014

Project description:

Space Allocation in higher education
German universities are currently focusing reforms. During the last few years German universities have gained autonomy in the course of several reform processes, in order to assert themselves better in international competition. At the same time modern economies recognize the significance of the education sector for their economic strength. In this situation researchers are intensifying the focus on successful higher education conditions. All research in this field has been grouped together under the general headline “economy of science”.
Economy in the strict sense of science deals with the allocation and optimization of the distribution of resources in science. Research questions are: what are the optimal facilities, and what is the optimal funding of universities and departments.  
The management paradigm of university resources has shifted in recent years. For many years the responsible Ministry of Education and Research, as well as the Ministry of Finance controlled the universities in a very detailed way. But for a few years this management has been changing to become more global. The allocation of resources is becoming increasingly an internal university process.
This is accompanied by an increased use of new controlling instruments in terms of New Public Management. The controlling of the internal university allocation of resources is  now oriented towards more economic criteria and monetary incentives. Resources are allocated according to the success of research and teaching, as well as to criteria of efficiency. The aim of the internal management of the allocation of university resources is to deploy resources more efficiently and identify potential savings.
In the higher education system there are three main strategic resources: human resources, money and environment (especially equipment and space). Their distribution enables the heads of universities to generate impulses for teaching. The effect of the size and the quality of space is always important for faculties, especially for experimentally working institutes, because the quality and performance of research and teaching depends on the available space. Space allocation is an important factor in higher education policy. Therefore a differentiated view of the structure of space, space requirements and operating costs is necessary. In addition to this, only the personnel costs are greater than space costs.
The universities use different modes of space management. The traditional hierarchic space management based on instruction is being more and more replaced by economic and market-driven space management models. This includes in particular instruments of monetary control. The introduction of monetary space control will also start a process of demand-oriented allocation of space. Mechanisms which control the occupancy of the space by negotiations and cooperation are not, as yet, significant in universities.  

Aims of the research project
The aim of the project is to develop models for allocation and management of space resources in higher education and the practical testing of those models in cooperation with universities. The models will be compared with one another; the mechanisms of action will be identified and reflected theoretically.
The project will work together with universities from Germany and other European countries who have already integrated a space management system and established controlling components, for example a monetary space management. Experience to date seems to indicate that the profits of monetary space management models are as yet rather limited. There are different reasons for this. One problem seems to be the opposition of the academics to the new models. Another reason could be the lack of any obligations. A lot of those models have a merely informational character and are of no consequence to the institutes. So far there has been a large gap between theoretical demands and practical performance.
The aim of the research project is to eliminate this deficit in empirical work and the development of scientifically-theoretical reflection. The project will develop the theoretical and economic basics of each identified model. At the same time, the question should be examined as to whether and how existing models can be improved. As a result the project will give objective advice for future allocation and management of space, and will offer advice for the practical implementation of space management models for universities.

Analysis steps
The project is divided into three major sections, methodically based on one another:
1.    Nationwide questionnaire,
2.    Case studies,
3.    Implementation.
The questionnaire will include all German universities and will integrate a range of other European universities too, to get an overview of the current state of implementation of space management.
The subsequent case studies should provide profound findings on different controlling instruments. On one side the project will investigate procedure for calculating requirements of space, and on the other side it will analyze space management models.  The exposition will show the different general conditions of real estate management and will examine the hypothesis that this is the main aspect of space management. Last but not least, the project will determine the effects of the identified models.
In the third part of the project selected universities will be assisted in implementing a space management model. The universities should benefit immediately from the results of the research project. Parallel to the research an exchange of experiences will be facilitated between interested universities. 

Project partners and Contact:

The research project is a cooperation of the Chair of Construction Economics at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and the Higher Education Information System (HIS) in Hannover. Researchers are Prof. Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Alfen and Anke Schwanck at the Bauhaus-Universität and Dr. Bernd Vogel, Marcelo Ruiz and Silja Tyllilä at the Higher Education Information System. The partners pool skills and competences in the construction sector, public real estate management, life cycle cost and space management.

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