Schools Answer Call for Efficiency
Three higher ed institutions trim budgets and improve facility use by focusing on data analysis.
Overland Park, KS (February 10, 2012) As higher education institutions seek to balance increasing enrollment with limited space and tighter budgets, many are identifying solutions through data analysis and evidence-based decision making. As three different institutions have experienced, the analysis pays off in greater efficiency and improved student success.
Baylor University, University of Calgary, and Johnson County Community College, for example, have found solutions to become more efficient, meet budget requirements, maximize their facility space limitations, and be responsive to student scheduling needs by conducting the Strategic Scheduling Check-Up from Ad Astra Information Systems.
"We are already making great progress," said Lin Knudson, Dean of Academic Support Division at Johnson County Community College. "The Strategic Scheduling Check-Up has given us the tools and data we need to create and enforce a scheduling policy."
Ad Astra's team analyzes key capacity and efficiency issues and assesses how an institution is performing in these areas as compared to other similar institutions. The Check-Up delivers a roadmap with recommendations to expand space capacity, isolate costs savings opportunities, and a dashboard with capacity and course offering metrics.
Effective Space Utilization
When Baylor University Board of Regents asked about classroom utilization on campus, no one knew the answer. However, their Facility Utilization Planner knew that six years of classroom usage data stored in Ad Astra's scheduling software was just waiting to be analyzed. The results were enlightening: The Strategic Scheduling Check-Up showed that Baylor had 38 percent usage of classrooms and only 23 percent usage of other facility rooms.
"This was a wake-up call for some people. We learned that we were not doing a good job of spreading our classes outside of our prime scheduling times," said Lois Ferguson, Facility Utilization Planner, at Baylor University.
Because of the Strategic Check-Up, Baylor was able to proactively establish a utilization task force that recommended a useful institution-wide policy to improve the situation.
Improving Student Success
A nine percent enrollment increase and decreasing budgets led Johnson County Community College (JCCC) to scramble for ways to become more efficient. JCCC commissioned Ad Astra to complete a Strategic Scheduling Check-Up to evaluate its space and course offering challenges and offer recommendations on scheduling policies.
The results were dramatic: JCCC identified more than 650 specific offerings in the schedule that could potentially be eliminated because of their low historical demand and two departments have already eliminated unnecessary courses saving JCCC money and space. In addition, more seats were identified in classrooms to meet student demand and control costs. Finally, JCCC plans to use the strategies learned from the reports to create a data-driven academic scheduling policy.
Are We Really Out of Room?
That's the question posed by University of Calgary's Associate Vice Provost David Johnston when many on campus said that their classroom inventory was full. Yet, when Johnston walked around campus, there were times when he would see rooms sitting empty. As each new term approached, Calgary's practice was to roll forward the last term's schedule. The increasing headache of timetabling course offerings helped Johnston realize that rolling forward was simply "making a bad schedule worse."
The Strategic Scheduling Check-Up conducted by Ad Astra's team pinpointed ineffective use of smaller classrooms, bottlenecks in large spaces, and heavy usage of non-standard meeting space.
In addition, Calgary utilizes a data-driven product called Platinum Analytics offered by Ad Astra to help guide its decision to manage future scheduling needs and potential space renovation. Together, the two solutions from Ad Astra helped Calgary make high-impact changes.
"The Strategic Scheduling Check-Up gave us valuable data to help not only with the creation of a scheduling policy but also in educating the campus on why the changes are necessary to ensure student success," said Johnston.
For more information, visit www.aais.com.
About Ad Astra Information Systems
Based in Overland Park, KS, Ad Astra Information Systems has a North American presence with customers in the United States and Canada. More than 550 college and university campuses have licensed Ad Astra software products and services since 1996 to help them with their facilities scheduling, event management, resource management and more. The results of using the Ad Astra advanced technology include significant cost savings; better management of facilities, meeting space and classrooms; and greater student satisfaction and graduation rates. With scheduling and planning among the most strategically important activities in which an institution can engage, The Astra Schedule Suite has become the standard for higher education scheduling software. Ad Astra invests significant resources into research and development and was the first company of its kind to develop a web-based platform for higher education scheduling software. In 2010, the United States Patent Office issued Ad Astra a patent for its innovative method of determining student demand for academic course. The company is committed to improved student success and resource management efficiency in higher education.