Space Management Policy

Document Number000568
Date Last Amended21 February 2012


The University currently has over 70 major buildings encompassing some 6,500 rooms and a useable floor area of over 148,000 square metres. The estimated capital replacement value of these assets is in excess of $390M.

The devising of a policy for efficient space management is of obvious importance, and the matter of effective use of presently available space is critical. The Policy Guidelines contained in this document were originally developed in 1991 and are the outcome of detailed discussions which had as the objective the optimising of the use of University space. In formulating the Guidelines, it has been taken as given that, in the University context, "efficiency" must be defined by reference to the needs of scholars, research workers, professional staff and students seen both as individuals and as members of communities - Faculties, Schools, Divisions, Sections, Units and so on. In particular, the importance of giving a physical dimension to the identity of disciplines is recognised. As against this, it has to be accepted that pressures upon space will for some time necessitate compromise in space allocation.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor has the responsibility of advising the Vice-Chancellor on the good management of space in the University as a whole, on space allocation and on the arbitration of disputes regarding space. Where particular Faculties or Divisions totally occupy a building or group of buildings, delegated authority to take responsible decisions for this area will be vested in Directors and/or Pro Vice Chancellor's. The Executive Director Facilities Management will have responsibility for buildings shared by Faculties or Divisions, for the allocation of offices and rooms and for the arbitration of disputes.

Space allocations are determined directly on assessment of needs. The University's Capital Management Plan aims to ensure that reasonable space required for teaching, research and academic and administrative support is available as required and is of good functional quality.

In regard to teaching space, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor will expect co-operation from Faculties and Schools in utilising all available hours and days of the week to enable optimal use of teaching space, including those teaching spaces available in Faculties and Schools. It is recognised that there are certain cases in which it is necessary to have specialised teaching space: however, this does not necessarily imply exclusive use of particular spaces.

It has also become necessary to introduce some 8.00 am teaching start times in order to break up the peak 9.00 am flow of traffic onto the campus and to help alleviate parking congestion.

Timetable information and frequency-of-use data will be used by the University to assist in developing timetable guidelines to which all 'managers' of teaching, research, laboratory and studio areas will be expected to adhere.

The University uses Space Management software (UNSM) to maintain a detailed inventory of space to quantify space for analysis and to determine indicative space needs.

Space Inventory

The Space Inventory Module (UNSM) lists all buildings and rooms on both campuses and identifies various attributes of these spaces, including size in square metres, capital replacement values, condition, room type and room functions etc together with details of the faculty/school/division/service group to which it is allocated, and where appropriate, name of occupant.

The various reports available from UNSM are available to Pro Vice Chancellor's and others as required.

Space Planning - Indicative Space Module

A second UNSM module is the Indicative Space Module (UNISM). The UNISM is a management tool which was originally developed in conjunction with other universities to assist with matters of space planning and allocation. The model has been accepted by AAPPA as an Australian standard in space management guidelines.

The UNISM is predicated on the following principles:

  • Different disciplines will require different amounts of space
  • Different categories of staff will require different amounts of space
  • Students at different levels will require different amounts of space.

Disciplines are grouped into a limited number of Space Indicator Groups (SIG) for the purposes of the module, with each SIG having associated with it a weighting factor referred to as Higher Education Space Indicators (HESI), expressed in square metres.

The UNISM enables a standard indicative space envelope to be determined for each academic organisation unit (AOU), based upon each AOU staff and student categories and numbers, and disciplines.

UNSM as a Management Tool

It is intended that the Indicative Space Module of UNSM be used as one element of the decision making processes in relation to new capital building proposals, reconfiguration/ refurbishment of existing buildings and allocation of space across faculties/schools and other University activities.

The consideration of all space requirements expressed by faculties/schools will include an analysis of actual space allocation compared to indicative space calculation. Where differences exist, these differences will be subject to detailed analysis to determine underlying reasons for the differences. Decisions in relation to space allocations will, however, always be based upon demonstrated essential need.

As far as the UNISM is concerned, it has been upgraded over time to ensure Y2K compliance and is now undergoing refinement to make it more specific to the University of Newcastle.

In sum, the Policy Guidelines which follow are intended to provide a basis for the good management of space in the best interests of members of the University as a whole and the co-operation by all involved is requested.


1.      Principles

1.1.     It is taken as a premise that no Faculty, School, Division or individual person has absolute control over any building, room or area within the University. Responsibility remains with the University through the Deputy Vice-Chancellor's advice to the Vice-Chancellor.

1.2.     Allocation of space, not currently occupied by a Faculty, School or other recognised Unit, will be the subject of approval by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor who will also have the capacity to negotiate changing accommodation use as required in the light of new academic and other developments and changing existing needs.

1.3.     Requests for the allocation of space and the redesignation of type or function of existing space will be subject to the approval by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

2.      Office Accommodation for Academic Staff

2.1.     The University is committed to the provision of office space for all full-time and fractional academic staff. Where possible this will be in single offices, but it may be necessary for staff to share. 'Shared offices' may include shared access to desk space and office equipment.

2.2.     Part-time academic staff will not normally be provided with private office space but will have access to shared office accommodation.

2.3.     General purpose teaching space will generally not be available for conversion to office space or other special purpose use.

2.4.     Staff common room space will be provided where possible.

  1. A basic standard of office furniture and fittings will apply and will be provided as part of a new building if funds permit. Any departure from the standard appropriate to an office would be agreed to only if a specific need can be established. In such cases, and for the provision of extra furniture, the Faculty/School/Division will be responsible for funding.
  2. Requests for the provision of office or teaching furniture are to be initially submitted through Facilities Management. This is to ensure that a standard of furniture is provided of suitable quality that can be maintained and purchased for the best possible price.

3.      Academic Offices

  1. Private office accommodation will be provided if possible for the following:

Pro Vice Chancellors, Heads of Schools, Professors, Associate Professors/Principal Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Academic staff with special duties or needs will be given some priority in cases which the Deputy Vice-Chancellor considers appropriate.

Upon appointment as Head of School for a fixed term, a member of staff may move into the office designated as the 'Head of School' office; his/her previous office would then be vacated and available for re-allocation, for the period concerned.

3.2.     Upon retirement or transfer from a 'Head of School' position, the 'Head of School' office would be vacated.

3.3.     It is the aim to provide private office accommodation for all Lecturers, but it may be necessary for Lecturers to share an office from time to time.

3.4.     Associate Lecturers will normally have shared office accommodation, except in those cases where an Associate Lecturer has a special need by virtue of duties and responsibilities.

3.5.     Research students will have access to appropriate space, including, where available, office accommodation. Where office space is available and is provided, it will normally be on a shared basis, except where a case for private office space can be established. All such cases will be restricted to the term of the student occupier and will be reviewed on a regular basis.

3.6.     An office may be retained for up to twelve months when a staff member is absent on approved leave. However, such an office may be reallocated on a temporary basis. It is proposed that Heads of School would be consulted in such cases and members of staff intending to be absent for a prolonged period are encouraged to take steps to facilitate the temporary use of an office prior to their departure.

3.7.     It is intended that remaining areas in the Hunter Building, Academic Office Block and Portables will, in due course, be assigned to particular Faculties and Departments in conformity with the overall approach to space allocation.

3.8.     The exchange of offices by agreement between members of staff is not permissible. Such requests must be referred to the Facilities Management (Space Management) for approval.

4.      Grouping of Areas

4.1.     Academic areas will be allocated to Faculties and Schools where appropriate and possible. Such allocation will be subject to renegotiation if and as necessary.

4.2.     The utilisation of such areas will be supervised by the Pro Vice Chancellor.

4.3.     Responsibility for the day-to-day management and utilisation of all building space on the campus will rest with the relevant Pro Vice Chancellor of the faculty as appropriate and with the Executive Director, Facilities Management.

5.      Utilisation of Resources

5.1.     In pursuance of the University's commitment to achieving maximum utilisation of space, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor may reallocate space. Such reallocation will be after negotiation with relevant persons and every effort will be made to minimise interference with academic work. In any case, a minimum of 30 days advice will be given to the occupier save in an emergency situation.

6.      Negotiations for Space

6.1.     Pro Vice Chancellors are encouraged to negotiate with each other to achieve solutions to accommodation problems. However, final approval for any change must be referred to the Facilities Management (Space Management) who will refer the matter to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor when appropriate.

6.2.     The Manager, Space and Facilities will be pleased to assist in matters relating to space management. Consultation is advised at an early stage in any proposed change of use.

7.      Management of Mixed Areas

7.1.     Where it is not appropriate to assign the responsibility for the supervision of a particular area to any one Faculty or other group, the supervision of that space will be exercised by the Executive Director, Facilities Management. Areas currently in this category include parts of the Hunter Building, the Academic Office Block, The Station Portables adjacent to the Hunter Building, the McMullin Building , the Computing and Information Sciences Building and the David Maddison Building.

8.      Appointment of New Staff

8.1.     Accommodation for all new staff must be approved prior to the commencement of recruitment action. Details of the proposed office must be included on the recruitment requisition form. This should be the subject of discussion with Pro Vice Chancellors and/or other persons as necessary.

8.2.     The Human Resource Service is not authorised to commence recruitment unless 8.1 has been complied with.

9.      Safety/Security

9.1.     It is the responsibility of the occupant of an office to:

(a) ensure all windows/doors are secure and all power appliances are turned off at completion of each business day;

(b) know the location and be capable of operating safety equipment provided in or near the area;

(c) know the alternative routes for evacuating the area in an emergency.

9.2.     Academic and Professional Staff making use of areas at particular times (eg Lecture Theatres, Laboratories) are requested to follow the guidelines in 9.1 as appropriate

10.      Management of Energy

  1. It is the responsibility of the occupant of an office to ensure that lighting and heating is turned off when vacating the office.
  2. Academic and Professional Staff making use of areas at particular times (eg Lecture Theatres, Laboratories) are requested to follow the guidelines in 10.1 as appropriate.

    10 October, 2000
Approval AuthorityVice-Chancellor
Date Last Amended21 February 2012
Policy SponsorVice-Chancellor
Policy OwnerDeputy Vice-Chancellor (Services)
Policy ContactAssociate Director, Asset and Property Services
Amendment History

Change in terminology from "general" to "professional" staff, approved by tyhe Vice-Chancellor 21 February 2012, effective 1 January 2012.