The 2015 House Bond proposal includes nearly $1 billion for the UNC system. That includes at least one project at each school, even tiny Elizabeth City State which is rapidly losing enrollment. Before legislators make a decision about the plan, they should consider current facilities use in the UNC system.

Across the system, there are 148,471 classroom or lab seats not currently being used. Every school in the system has some unused space. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon, as little as 20% of available seats are in use systemwide.

Here is the number of available seats at each school (in 2013):

  • App State                                10,963
  • Elizabeth City                          4,801
  • East Carolina                          14,255
  • Fayetteville State                    3,994
  • NC A&T                                     9,375
  • NC Central                                7,387
  • NC State                                  21,258
  • UNC Asheville                         2,378
  • UNC-Chapel Hill                   17,729
  • UNC Charlotte                       16,434
  • UNC Greensboro                   10,788
  • UNC Pembroke                       4,343
  • UNC School of the Arts         2,869
  • UNC Wilmington                   9,937
  • Western Carolina                   6,503
  • Winston-Salem State             5,133

Looking at average room usage yields similar results. Across the system, the average classroom is only in use 26.4 hours per week. The average lab is only in use 14.2 hours per week. UNC recognizes this underuse. It sets weekly usage goals at 35 hours for classrooms and 20 for labs. No UNC school meets the system’s classroom usage goals. Only UNC Greensboro and Appalachian State are meeting lab use goals.

Before building new space, universities should maximize what they have. This is especially true as enrollments stabilize and hybrid and online courses become more popular.