SUMS Consulting has been talking to university leaders about managing the Covid-19 crisis and their visions for the future. With views gathered from a series of one-to-one interviews, SUMS’ Community of Practice Groups meeting virtually, along with student surveys, SUMS is able to take a service-by-service review of university operations. It has found a sector eager to change and seeing positives in adversity.   Here, Principal Consultant Claire Taylor and Associate Consultant Andrea Buttle share insight from their research into the implications of the pandemic on timetabling and space management.

Timetabling and space management have been the topic of many a conversation amongst SUMS staff and colleagues in member universities, and are highly interwoven with a number of other themes on which SUMS will be publishing briefing papers.  Earlier this month, we published a piece on Digital Education and Assessment.  It’s well worth a read alongside this SUMS Briefing Paper, as the models of pedagogy and assessment that universities will use heavily influence academic space and the way it is managed.  You can also find one of our recent posts, which was featured on Wonkhe – 2020: a space (and timetabling) odyssey – to be a good overview of the magnitude of the challenge ahead when it comes to managing the university timetable and estate.

This paper explores the impact of Covid-19 on the process of timetabling, the timetable itself, and the way that academic space is used, both in transition and in the “new normal”.  We include our thoughts on the impact of wider space use, including a challenge to institutions to think about space as enablers of activities, as places where people come together to co-produce something. This extends to digital space as a place where people come together and links both to digital education and other work that we are doing on digital service delivery.

Here we focus on the physical: the rooms and buildings, the corridors and paths that connect them, the formal patterns of use represented by the space management and the timetabling processes and how we can support the more informal uses of our physical campuses.

Read the full Rapid Response Briefing Paper The Impact of Covid-19 on Timetabling and Space Management – May 2020.

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