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Decline in Student Enrollment Creating Shortfall of Students to Fill New Space on College Campuses, According to Sightlines Report

GUILFORD, Conn., Nov. 11, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Declining numbers of high school graduates are affecting college and university enrollments in most parts of the country, creating a tension in which many campuses now have more space to maintain and fewer students to fill it, according to a new report released today by Sightlines.

“In the aftermath of the Great Recession, colleges and universities experienced a strong period of increasing student enrollment from 2007-2011, so many of them added new campus space to accommodate that growth,” said Jim Kadamus, vice president of Sightlines. “However, in the past few years we’ve started to see this trend reverse, as fewer students are coming out of high school and entering college.”

Sightlines is a leader in helping academic institutions better manage their facilities and capital investment strategies. Sightlines’ “State of Facilities in Higher Education: 2015 Benchmarks, Best Practices & Trends” report was introduced for the first time to attendees at the company’s inaugural member conference for Higher Ed executives on November 9-11, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Newport, R.I.

The study included data from 343 higher education institutions in the U.S. and Canada, with a collective enrollment of 2.6 million students and 1.5 billion total square feet of campus space. Approximately 40 percent of the institutions in the study were private and 60 percent were public.

“Both public and private institutions are facing a growing problem of deferred maintenance backlogs on their campuses, with the challenge more severe at public universities,” said Kadamus, in a keynote address at the Sightlines Insights Summit. “Private campus backlog has increased by 18 percent since 2007, public campus backlog has increased by 22 percent over the same time.”

Other key findings in the 2015 report include the following:

  • On almost every indicator Sightlines tracked, research universities outperform other types of campuses. They continue to grow enrollment, manage space and strategically allocate capital to campus priorities.
  • Small institutions, both private and public, that are not highly selective are faced with the greatest challenges. Many of these campuses have borrowed money to build new or renovate existing space in hopes of attracting more students, but Sightlines’ data suggests that the strategy has not worked to date. They now have more debt and less tuition revenue to repay it.
  • Capital needs for facilities continue to grow as buildings constructed in the 1960s and 1970s have passed key age thresholds and need to be renewed. Deferred maintenance backlogs continue to grow at most campuses, despite evidence that leadership is making sound decisions regarding project selection.
  • The Sightlines database projects that campuses need to spend approximately $5 per gross square foot (GSF) annually to “steward” the buildings and manage the assets. Campuses are funding on average just 27 percent of this need ($1.35/GSF). At the same time, campuses are spending on average $7.20/GSF on operations and utilities, so just a 10 percent savings from operations spending would represent a substantial increase in stewardship funding. The data shows that a $1 increase in stewardship offsets $3 in future capital renewal investment.

Building upon the findings from the prior “State of Facilities in Higher Education” reports, the 2015 report analyzes new trends and benchmarks, provides insight into the challenges impacting higher education, and shares best practices for how campus leaders can fund and manage their facilities in light of these challenges. The full report can be downloaded at: http://www.sightlines.com/insight/state-of-facilities-2015/.

“Sightlines’ Insight Summit ’15: Building Bridges Between Finance & Facilities” was an educational and networking event designed to strengthen the lines of communication between key decision makers in the finance and facilities departments at North American colleges and universities. Beyond the debut of the 2015 State of Facilities report, the Insights Summit featured a series of concurrent sessions presented by finance and facilities leaders from institutions that represented best practices and proven facilities strategies. Topics included: ways to coordinate facilities assessments with institutional strategic or master plans; best practices in balancing the needs of new space with stewardship of existing facilities; overcoming the fear of backlog and using limited resources to mitigate risk; and getting your campus green and keeping it that way.

About Sightlines

Founded in 2000, Sightlines is a subsidiary of The Gordian Group. Sightlines gives colleges and universities the independent data and perspective they need to make critical decisions about their most valuable assets – their facilities. Sightlines stewards the industry’s most extensive verified database, allowing more than 450 institutions across the U.S. and Canada to benchmark an institution’s facilities against universities and colleges across the nation. Sightlines’ flagship offering for members is ROPA+, a fully integrated solution for facilities intelligence that leads members through a comprehensive process of discovery, prediction and performance measurement. Other Sightlines solutions provide higher ed executives with insights to assist with capital planning, space management and campus sustainability initiatives. For more information, please call 203.682.4952, go to http://www.sightlines.com or email insights@sightlines.com.

Media Contact: Daryn Teague Teague Communications (805) 358-3058 dteague@teaguecommunications.com

Source:Sightlines, LLC