We recently undertook a strategic timetabling analytics project at an Australian university. Our client is a large university, part of the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) group with more than 30,000 student enrolments, and the challenges they face are indicative of universities across the sector.
The academic timetable was a key issue for students and staff
An internal university initiative had identified the academic timetable as a key challenge for students and staff. Feedback from academics was that the timetable was inflexible and not responsive to their needs. Working with key stakeholders, AptoNow found a range of further challenges, including an 80% increase in the number of post-publication timetable changes over the past three years. Such changes result in shifting student timetables right up until the start of semester. Additionally, space utilisation for certain types of teaching space was as low as 15% during semester teaching periods.
AptoNow used innovative data analysis and staff consultation to identify key insights
AptoNow examined a wide range of datasets to identify new insights into the issues with the timetabling process. Sources included historical student enrolments, class registrations, historical timetables and space utilisation data. Our team worked closely with key Timetabling staff to clean and connect these datasets in a way that produced new and significant insights.
We also consulted with key stakeholders to identify broader process and organisatioal challenges that were impacting on timetable performance. Finally, AptoNow also interviewed leading Timetabling experts from other higher education institutions to develop case studies of best practice.
AptoNow developed a compelling future roadmap for the Timetabling team, and an innovative method for freeing up constraints
AptoNow’s work enabled the university's Timetabling team to better understand the needs of their stakeholders and identify methods for improved communication. In addition, our team’s data analysis enabled the development of a new method for identifying clash-free student pathways that the Timetabling Manager described as a “game changer”, reducing timetable constraints by approximately 40%. Removing unnecessary constraints adds considerable flexibility, freedom and efficiency in developing a timetable. It affords more time and effort to construct a timetable that matches better with student needs and institutional objectives.