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Commenting on the university’s 2021 budget at yesterday’s University of Otago Council meeting, Mr Willis said compared with other institutions, the university’s property portfolio had "thousands and thousands of square metres" of extra space in some areas.
The university had almost enough space to provide for growth for the next 15 years, he said in budget commentary yesterday.
"However, there are likely to be significant changes in the type of space required, with growth in health sciences and a reduced footprint in other divisions, increased demand for research and specialist space, an increase in the proportion of postgraduate students, and an increasing range of informal and social spaces," he said.
There was significant scope to combine and streamline teaching space, as the university continued to play "3-D chess" in configuring the Dunedin campus.
University of Otago chief financial officer Sharon van Turnhout said the commerce and humanities student numbers had dropped 20% in recent years.
Enrolment was budgeted to drop across all four academic divisions next year, budget figures Miss van Turnhout presented yesterday showed.
Across the board the university was budgeting for a 282 decrease in equivalent full-time students (EFTs) in 2021.
Commerce students were budgeted to drop to 2686 EFTs next year, down 56 (-2%) from this year’s likely 2742.
Humanities students were expected to drop to 4694 EFTs, down 93 (-1.9%) from this year’s likely 4787.
Sciences were expected to fall 74 EFTs (-1.6%) to 4463, and health sciences were expected to be 6351 EFTs, a drop of 59 (-0.9%).