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The Top 2 Problems with Timetabling and How to Fix Them

January 16, 2024
3 min read
HubStar VP of Growth

Timetabling has the power to transform the higher education experience for the better – not just for students, but for faculty, staff and the wider community as well.

Problem is, there’s so much uncertainty and volatility in the ways students are accessing learning spaces that timetabling can feel a lot like a game of pin the tail on the donkey.

As the public perception of the value of higher education changes, so too does student enrollment. While this seems to be trending down overall, different institutions with different course offerings could be seeing a completely different story.

And as for student attendance, it’s anyone’s guess. 76% of students are attending fewer lectures on-campus now than during Covid. On the flipside, some universities are experiencing a surge in students wanting to learn and meet up on campus that they simply weren’t prepared for.

Finally, institutional funding is drying up. Grants are becoming more difficult to come by in many cases, and individual degrees are now underfunded by £1750 per student. Ultimately, this impacts the course offerings and space functionalities that timetablers have to work with.

But if anyone has the power to overcome the challenges facing higher education as an industry, it’s timetablers and schedulers.

“Schedulers have to be multi-skilled professionals who think laterally and mathematically: data analysts, negotiators, change managers, complaint handlers, crucial links between central and faculty operations, and contributors to institutional sustainability.” says Dave Dowland for higher education policy publication Wonkhe.

Tune into this on-demand webinar for a deeper look at two of the most common problems schedulers run into with timetabling and how to fix them.

Transformational Timetabling: How to Boost Campus Space Efficiency on-demand webinar

Problem #1: Decision making in the dark

This happens when schedulers don’t have an accurate picture of what’s actually happening versus what was scheduled. More specifically, decision making in the dark occurs when there’s no visibility into:

  • How many students show up to on-campus classes
  • Whether classes run for the full duration of their allotted time
  • Whether the room was filled to capacity or not, and
  • How attendance is trending up and down over time.

There’s two main consequences here. The first is waste of space from classes sitting empty. The second is missed opportunities to accommodate more students, expand course offerings and reduce costs (like utilities) from making more efficient use of campus spaces.

How to fix it: Rather than relying on manual walkthrough audits, take a look at occupancy data.

Problem #2: Organizational silos

Departments like scheduling, real estate, space planning and facilities management are all working towards the same goal – providing the best possible learning outcome and experience for students.

But if these departments aren’t aligned and collaborating, each one is left in the dark about how to provide the best possible outcome for staff and students.

If the scheduling and real estate teams don’t talk to each other, an opportunity is missed to repurpose underused classroom spaces into study spaces that students actually need, for example.

And if the scheduling and curriculum delivery teams aren’t regularly collaborating, finding new ways to deliver classes based on how students are actually using classroom spaces will be a shot in the dark.

How to fix it: Use timetabling and occupancy data as a conversation starter to connect and align different stakeholders.

Want to find out more on how to fix these problems and the five key trends shaping the campus of the future in 2024?

Grab a snack and tune in to this on-demand webinar ⬇️⬇️⬇️

Transformational Timetabling on-demand webinar


HubStar is a next-gen hybrid workplace platform that helps workplace innovators create a productive, connected workplace. Bring teams together in the right place at the right time while optimizing the spaces, facilities and policies they need to collaborate, do their best work and thrive.

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