Liesel van Wyk with an example of a signboard for which her division is also responsible.
Eish! talked to Liesel van Wyk, director of the division for facilities, space management and utilities, about the space audit being conducted on the three campuses at the moment.
Next time you find yourself out and about on campus, take the time to appreciate the beautiful new buildings that have been going up. It’s all part of a bigger plan to make the best possible use of our space.
Q: What does this space audit involve?
A: It is an intensive and comprehensive audit of every centimetre of space on the three campuses. We will use it to update the data on our building plans and our database.
Q: Why are you doing the audit?
A: Firstly, if we are to optimally use our facilities, we have to know what type of spaces we have, how many there are and who uses them. The Department of Higher Education and Training also expects us to report on every square metre of space at the university.
The audit is of primary importance for the sustainable growth of the NWU, which currently has assets of more than R8 billion spread across the campuses. The university cannot just continue to expand, as this has a major influence on operating costs.
For example, our division handles the services account of the campuses. This means that we have to read between 500 and 600 electricity meters every month with the help of our software and compare them with the municipal accounts. The electricity account of the campus in Potchefstroom can run to nearly R10 million per month.
Q: Did you not already have information about spaces at the NWU?
A: Our information about spaces was previously very fragmented and in many cases is only available on paper or building plans. The audit will ensure all the information is in one place.
The data will also be the starting point to facilitate maintenance, planning and construction.
Q: What are you going to do when the audit has been completed?
A: Once the data has been collected, we will be able to see where there is too little space in the various faculties. In the Faculty of Engineering, for example, we will then use government guidelines to determine how many square metres an engineering student in a laboratory needs.
The space audit will provide the deans with the proper information to do their planning. This will also play a role when new academic programmes are envisaged. Apart from the impact on the NWU’s budget, the data will indicate whether or not a new building is required before a new programme can be presented.
This data also becomes management information that is imported into the university’s space development plan, which Joep Joubert, the chief director for facilities, developed.
Q: How long is this audit going to take?
A: As our information is so fragmented, it will keep us busy for quite a number of months. We are also looking at new computer programs that will optimise the work methods of the facilities division.
Q: It has been said that departments and faculties are going to pay for their spaces – what is that about?
A: The space utilisation in the audit is being determined so comprehensively that it is being broken down to module level, for example to determine how much space a mathematics or geography student and lecturer needs. Researchers’ spaces are also determined according to the amount of time they spend in laboratories or in offices.
Paying for space will only be considered when the audit has been completed and we can compile the necessary guidelines. The idea is that paying for spaces would come into play when these guidelines are breached, but we are still a long way from that point.