University of the West of Scotland (UWS) Room Booker
The University of the West of Scotland is among the most innovative universities in Scotland with over 120 years’ history. In 2019 it was ranked in the top 500 universities by Times Higher Education (THE). Rated highly for teaching quality and student experience, the university provides a diverse range of topics to study from engineering to nursing.
The university has four campuses in the west of Scotland - Paisley, Lanarkshire, Dumfries, and Ayr - and a campus in London. The new £110 million Lanarkshire campus is most innovative and dynamic with almost all teaching space being of collaborative design. This campus represents a shift away from traditional learning and teaching delivery to more effective and powerful methods.
A great way to immerse staff and students in the teaching experience, but a real challenge for timetablers! With 17,000 students and 1,500 staff to keep happy, this was a challenge the team couldn’t afford to fail.
Although Ad-hoc room booking is restricted to non-teaching events, it was still a time-consuming process to manage booking requests, with three generic campus inboxes as well as specialised lab inboxes being monitored by the timetabling team. This meant the team manually managing some 10,000 requests per annum and took a total of 60 FTE days to complete.
It wasn’t just about implementing new software. We started at the ‘beginning’ with the raw data. How clean was it? How clear was it to the end user? A simple analysis lead to a significant restructure of Room data held in CELCAT Timetabler. Room Names were updated, Layouts simplified and condensed, Fixtures were reorganised. At the same time, Event Categories were restructured, Departments were condensed, and reorganised and email handling improvements were initiated. Only after this was complete did we install and launch CELCAT Room Booker.
Tidying up the Room Name data meant that users could more easily identify the type of room they were looking at and Room Advisor results became clearer. Grouping Event Categories has meant that we can make sure that Module Event Categories are reserved for module delivery. Other Event Category groupings were created to manage staff unavailability and non- working on the timetable.
CELCAT Room Booker was launched on 14th January 2019, having been tested by 14 staff members prior to launch. The setup included excluding large teaching rooms, event spaces and video conferencing rooms. Booking requests are limited to a maximum of 45 days in advance and with a 75% near-miss on capacity. Capacity, Booking Title, Requester Email, Event Department and Event Category are all set as mandatory fields. All booking requests are now received in one central inbox. Each school is assigned a specific Room Booker role allowing access to their own school rooms and general rooms.
Initially, some users struggled, particularly those unfamiliar with CELCAT Timetabler and had to get used to the process of viewing and cancelling unwanted bookings. However, since launch 2442 booking requests were made in a three-month period - on average 40 requests per day. Twenty rooms have been transferred from booking in MS Outlook to CELCAT. This has the benefits of rooms being managed and booked using one system, utilisation being reported on - from the one system. It also means that the team can spend more time on timetabling as opposed to room booking.
Greg Sheridan & Nazneen Ahmed