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“Paying the price” for unused rooms and lecture theatres

29 Jul 2009

New financial penalties for failure to cancel bookings

In a concerted effort to improve the availability of good quality teaching space across the campus, the University is to begin charging Schools and Directorates a financial penalty for rooms and lecture theatres which are booked and then are not used.

The new financial penalties, which were approved by the University last month and will come into effect from September, are the result of a year long inquiry into the availability of teaching space and room utilisation headed by Professor Alistair Ulph, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.

“There is a perception that we are short of good quality teaching space on the campus, but this just isn’t the case”, says Professor Ulph. “The real problem is that we are just not utilising the spaces that we have efficiently. The most acute and frustrating problem is people “block booking” rooms at the start of the academic year and then not using them without bothering to cancel the booking so that the room can be used by somebody else”.

A recent survey by the Central Timetabling Unit showed that in a typical week, teaching rooms were “booked out” for 5,523 hours (59% of teaching slots), but were only actually used for 4,536 hours (49% of teaching slots) – meaning there were 987 hours each week that were booked, but not used.

There is a particular issue about the availability of larger rooms or lecture theatres on the campus, but this issue too is compounded by people “booking out” spaces that are much larger than their requirements and not amending their room booking once enrolments and class sizes are known.

The new financial penalties will be based on the results of unannounced surveys and checks of rooms conducted by the Teaching Support Services Unit and could cost individual Schools up to £8,000 over the year unless they improve their current performance.

Details of the financial penalties regime are currently being communicated to Heads of School and administrative staff in Schools responsible for booking teaching space, but they will require the involvement and co-operation of all academic staff in their School in order to maximise the effective utilisation of the available space and reduced the financial consequences for the School or Administrative Directorate.

Room Booking Guidance

  • Always book teaching space through the nominated person for room bookings in your School.
  • Be honest about your requirements in terms of hours, dates and size of room.
  • If your requirements in terms of hours, dates and size of room change, make sure you inform the nominated person for room booking in your School to contact Central Timetabling Unit, so that an alternative venue can be allocated at a suitable time
  • If you have to cancel a class, make sure that you inform the nominated person for room bookings in your School – as well as your students.
  • Central teaching rooms can only be booked “on the hour”. Try to book “on the hour”, if this is not possible and you are booking “on the half hour”, make sure Central Timetabling Staff are aware of it so they can make appropriate reference to it.
  • Never occupy a central teaching and meeting room that has not been booked through the Central Timetabling Unit.