Past and Future Growth

As set out in the 2001 Strategic Plan, Making Choices, and confirmed in the 2006 Strategic Plan, Engaging the Future, the University has set a target of 4,350 for first year undergraduate admissions over the next decade. University requirements for space, however, will continue to grow through increased numbers of graduate students, increases in research activity, and increased numbers of staff, faculty and postdoctoral fellows. Specifically, the University has declared a target of doubling the number of PhD students and significantly increasing Masters-level students from the baseline of 2000-01 by 2010-11 and of maintaining a strong rate of graduate expansion thereafter. 

Over the last 65 years, Western has experienced about a thirty-fold increase in student enrollment (See Graph 1: Western's Full-Time Enrollment PDF) and in campus space (See Graph 2: Western's Campus Space PDF), characterized by fairly constant increases with pronounced periods of rapid growth in both – but not necessarily at the same time.  Space is measured in Gross Square Meters (GSM). Graph 3  (See Graph 3: Space per Full-Time Student PDF) gives the ratio of space to enrollment, measured as GSM per student, in five-year periods.  The ratio falls from 1940 to 1945, rises sharply to 1960, and tends to fall slowly after 1960, reaching 25 GSM per student in 2005, roughly the same as the 1940 value.  The graphs show that while space has expanded significantly since 1960, it has not kept pace with enrolment; GSM per student fell by about 28% from 1960 to 2005.

The space formula of the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities and the Council of Ontario Universities allows a more complex approach to space needs than mere student numbers.  The COU/MTCU formula computes a “formula space” for each university based on the space needs for students, staff, faculty, and other researchers, with different weights by Faculty, and provisions for nonacademic space.  As Graph 4 shows, the ratio of Actual Space to Formula Space at Western dropped from 1.06 to 0.73 from 1977 to 2004, a reduction of some 22%.  

The downward trend in the available space per student and for all Universities activities (See Graph 3: Space per Full-Time Student PDF and Graph 4: Ratio of Actual Space to Formula Space PDF) have had a significant impact on our educational environment.  In the face of increasing space needs, much of which can be attributed to the needs of the increased proportion of research active faculty members, there has been a general loss of communal space and a compression of existing space.  Western is now at the point where the reversal of this situation has become an institutional priority.  On top of these concerns is the understanding that the increased emphasis on graduate education carries much larger space demands per student as reflected in the provincial funding standards.  Increased research activity also carries with it access to, and the need for multiple sources of research funding which, in turn, carry increased space demands of various sorts. 

Graph 5 shows weighted full-time enrollment at Western, with actual figures from 1990 to 2005, and forecasts from 2006 to 2015 (See Graph 5: Western's Weighted Full-Time Enrollment PDF). Weighted figures are used because doctoral students on average require more space than Master’s students, who require more space than undergraduate students.  The weights used are undergraduate, 1; Master’s, 2; and PhD, 4.  These correspond roughly to the relative BIU weights used in our funding formula.  Our weighted full-time enrolment will continue to grow in the next decade, although not as fast as during the previous decade.

Graph 6 shows the rapid increase in research funding coming to Western and its research affiliates (See Graph 6: Western's Research Revenues PDF) (including Lawson Health Research Institute and Robarts Research Institute) over the last five years.  Even using the lowest of the three forecasts, which assumes 2/3 of the actual growth rate from 1993 to 2005 going forward, research revenues would increase by some 38% in the decade after 2005.  The growth in research is expected to generate requirements for significant amounts of new space.

Graph 7 shows Western's actual growth in space from 2005 to 2015 and a forecast growth from at roughly the same rate as in the previous 15 years
(See Graph 7: Western's Building Space PDF).  From GSM of 642,000 in 2005, we grow to 723,000 in 2015, an increase of 12.6%, or about 1.2% a year.  For the years to 2012, we can compare the trend to the space plan set out in our 2006-07 Budget.  If we complete all our projects on time, we would create 61,800 new GSM by 2012; the trend line shows an increase of 56,000 GSM over the same period.  So the trend is broadly consistent with the space plan.

Graph 8 is the ratio of the figures in Graph 7 to those in Graph 5 (See Graph 8: Space per Weighted Full-Time Student PDF).   GSM per weighted full-time student rises very slightly over the decade after 2005.  We must hope -- and indeed seek to ensure -- that the slight improvement allows room to realize our goals for decompression and expansion of communal space.


Next section (Lands Beyond the Traditional Campus Area)