Space Management Policy

Updated on 18 March 2021

A collection of good practice principles for space management to be adopted by the Space Management Group and wider University

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Efficiency and effectiveness of space use

A principal aim is the release for other uses of poor quality, poorly located or wrong sized rooms that are under utilised, in order to deliver opportunities for relocation and consolidation of activities and/or achieve the emptying and disposal of whole buildings as part of the planned programme of 15% space reduction by 2018 and to enhance the utilisation and quality of the remaining Estate.

  • In collaboration with Colleges and SASS, review, rationalise and improve existing space.
  • In collaboration with the Learning & Teaching Committee, review, rationalise and improve existing and future teaching room provision and informal learning spaces.
  • In conjunction with the Carbon/Energy Management, Facilities Management, Procurement and ICS teams, improve efficiency in energy use, resource use and carbon footprint.
  • Rationalisation of space through shared multi-disciplinary use as well as the exploration of potential collaborative ventures.
  • Dispose of and/or demolish properties peripheral to the Estate Strategy and to the footprint of City Campus.
  • Release space to NHS Tayside.
  • Release of space for lease to public and private sector organisations and individuals.
  • Sharing of rarely used facilities with other institutions and organisations in collaboration with Colleges and on terms to be agreed by Campus Services.
  • Sharing of academic/administrative offices, the provision of multi-occupancy workspace where practicable, and hot-desking in the case of part time appointments, those where home working is feasible, and those where the primary workplace is based in laboratories, workshops or other environments.
  • Wherever possible, to rationalise and share under utilised community space such as Common rooms, computer clusters, reading rooms..


Annual utilisation audits and surveys will continue to raise awareness of the benefits of effective space use and help to intensify utilisation. The following are recommended:

  • Undertake, as a minimum, annual utilisation surveys of Centrally Managed teaching space to monitor use and report trends.
  • Carry out ad hoc utilisation surveys and monitor the use of all space.
  • In collaboration with the Central Timetabling Service, monitor and report upon all room booking data.
  • In collaboration with the Central Timetabling Service, Colleges and Schools, encourage improvement in booking practice and process to maximise efficient utilisation.
  • Proactive analysis of the results of utilisation surveys when appraising options for investment, or changes in, space use.
  • Under-utilised space to be relinquished for other uses, or improved if the environment is a factor in non-use.
  • Undertake annual space audits and proactive reviews of all space to assess fitness for purpose.
  • Using University developed space standards, compare current and future profile requirements of all space types to ensure these meet current and future needs.
  • Complete Estate Management Statistics (EMS) returns in line with other Universities nationally, for comparison with sector norms.
  • Work with other Universities to ensure EMS returns are completed, analysed and interpreted in an equitable fashion.
  • Set a target KPI of 31% Utilisation Rate for teaching rooms by 2016/17.
  • Set a KPI of 10.3sqm net internal area per student FTE for all space by 2016/17.

Performance indicators 

The refinement of EMS data generated by individual institutions is beginning to provide a meaningful range of cost based measures at 'whole institution' level. The development of PI's, measuring space/student, space/staff and financial data/space will, however, provide comparative data across the University and year on year comparison within particular activities, Colleges, Schools or Research Groups. We need to ensure our PI’s are relevant to the University’s business performance as well as improving our sector performance. The current space PIs are:

  • Set a target KPI of 31% Utilisation Rate for teaching rooms by 2016/17.
  • Set a KPI of 10.3sqm net internal area per student FTE for all space by 2016/17.

It is also anticipated targets will be developed with particular reference to the utilisation of the Estate and this will be monitored within the University and against the sector by adoption and use of the above mentioned data. The Space Assessment Model (SAM) and Model of Estates Cost (MEC) provided by AUDE and HEFCE using EMS data, will also be employed and developed as a management tool for the analysis of space use, and the comparison of space use against business performance within the sector and will, over time, provide a rationale for the allocation of space in investment/restructuring situations. However, the PI approach does not take into account the quality or fitness for purpose of space, and these factors, together with the effectiveness of space use, will always be considered alongside the need to drive efficiency.

As a matter of policy it is suggested that the economics of space use be considered as part of the business case appraisal in proposing new activities, for instance when making research bids, or in connection with restructuring or business initiatives.

Space inventory system 

The detailed analysis and management of space use outlined above, and to allow for the possible introduction of space charging, demands accurate and regularly updated space information.

Improved hardware and software has already been acquired within Campus Services which will be further developed to provide an interactive web based means of updating records directly for Colleges, Schools, and Directorate with Campus Services as gatekeeper.

Through the Data Warehouse, it is anticipated that information sharing and analysis for EMS, PI, Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) and Central Timetabling Service for example will become much more efficient, accurate and less time-consuming in the future.

Additional initiatives involve:

  • the development of a cost base to more accurately identify utility and servicing costs by building and space to enable efficiency measures to be monitored and 'cost in use' comparisons to be made
  • the compilation of Condition Surveys for buildings and space which will be relevant to the 'cost in use' approach and to longer term strategic planning
  • development of the Property Information Management System to record and manage the space leased to and from third parties to provide transparency to the incomes, costs and liabilities
  • the enhancement of the floor and site plans database to provide consistency of quality, accuracy and wider access to Colleges

New ways of using space 

The Space Management Policy will be aligned to the University Master Plan and the Academic Vision. In the spirit of openness, collaboration and teamwork and in response to changing teaching practices, research activity, and the restructuring of the Estate, there is scope to:

  • develop innovative property solutions for the occupation of University premises where entrepreneurial ventures are concerned such as incubator units, recognising the need to maximise commercial benefit consistent with retaining the integrity of the Estate
  • pursue more flexible property arrangements when leasing space, either on a long term basis or short term basis to achieve specific objectives. Financial arrangements would depend on the business case
  • examine and respond to Regional Initiatives where, in particular, collaborative ventures could open the door to additional funding streams
  • develop incentives to encourage smart space management
  • expand the concept of ‘University’ as opposed to College/School space under central management and accessible to all
  • raise awareness of the intrinsic value of space in creating a sense of place
  • explore fully opportunities for sharing facilities, such as Social space and workshops, both between Colleges/Schools/Directorates and with other organisations
  • establish core common spaces to allow interaction and creative exchange
  • expand the use/creation of multi-occupancy offices, introducing hot-desking where appropriate
  • expand the use/creation of flexible space for teaching, problem-based learning and workshops
  • explore the opportunities that technology allows in flexibility, sharing and changing the current use of space
  • review building opening hours and use outwith semesters

Commercial estate 

The University currently realises income from leasing property or space to third parties. The objectives will be:

  • to maximise income from the existing portfolio and key facilities, gaining best value for the use of property and space.
  • to make use of, and generate income from, space that is not needed by the University at present but is central to its campus footprint and/or future Estates plans.
  • to establish the extent of existing agreements and to realise the potential for enhancing income,
  • to review and reduce the expenditure on leased space
  • to record and manage commercial activity in the Property Information Management System
  • through partnering with the Private Sector, to examine opportunities to enhance the quality of the Estate, or to provide facilities otherwise unattainable through traditional means

Management structure 

One of the key factors for success highlighted by the UK HE Space Management Group, Good Practice Guide was strong commitment at a senior level in institutions to drive the Space Management agenda forward and a willingness to recognise space as a key institutional asset.

In recognition of this, and with the imperative of the current aim to reduce the Estate by 15% by 2018, it is essential that the University Space Management Group is the mechanism for space allocation decision-making. Its visibility, strength and transparency will become increasingly important as the programme of space rationalisation progresses.

The current Space Management Group is not recognised as, nor formally linked to, any University Committee and it would assist visibility if this is changed so that the Group reported to the Finance & Policy Committee for example. In order to achieve the University objective to reduce space, the existing Space Management Group’s Terms of Reference comprise the following responsibilities and these may also need to be reviewed with regards delegated authority and the definition of the allocation of space:

  • to enhance the overall management and use of space throughout the University in line with strategic priorities
  • to enhance utilisation rates, occupancy rates and operational efficiency levels for campus buildings consistent with the targets established through the University’s key performance indicators and benchmarks relating to space management
  • to advise the University Secretary and Director of Finance on the use of their delegated authority in relation to the strategic management and use of space in University buildings and to make recommendations as and when appropriate to the Finance & Policy Committee of Court
  • to allocate space in University buildings to academic and non-academic activities, either in fulfilment of the University’s estates strategy or in response to specific requests from the managers of such activities
  • to advise and liaise with the College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, and NHS Tayside as appropriate, on the use of space by the University on the Ninewells, Kirkcaldy, Perth and Stracathro campuses
  • to liaise with members of the Senior Management Team in determining academic and other priorities for the use of space and to refer difficult issues to the SMT as a whole
  • to determine policy on the availability of space as centrally managed teaching accommodation and to liaise thereon with the Learning & Teaching Committee
  • to allocate space in University buildings to non-University activities, insofar as such co-location is in the University’s interests and does not comprise the development of core University activities
  • through the Building Space Manager, to maintain detailed plans and records of all University buildings and to monitor and review the use of space within those buildings
  • to ensure optimum use of space is achieved both to minimise cost and support academic activity
Corporate information category Space management and storage