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Research Space at Academic Institutions Increased 4% Between FY 2007 and FY 2009

NSF 11-312 | May 2011| PDF format. PDF  
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by Leslie Christovich[1]

According to the National Science Foundation's biennial Survey of Science and Engineering Research Facilities, the amount of science and engineering (S&E) research space at research-performing colleges and universities expanded 4% between FY 2007 and FY 2009, from 188 million to 196 million net assignable square feet (NASF) (table 1).[2] This percentage increase is almost three times the amount of growth found between FY 2005 and FY 2007 and follows two consecutive survey cycles with slowing growth (figure 1).

TABLE 1. Science and engineering research space, by type of institution: FY 2001–09.

  Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

FIGURE 1. Change in science and engineering research space in academic institutions, by 2-year period: FY 2001–09.

  Figure 1 Source Data: Excel file

Research Space

In FY 2009 the greatest amount of S&E research space was available in the biological and biomedical sciences (26%) (table 2). The amount of NASF used for research in biological and biomedical sciences increased 12% between FY 2007 and FY 2009, which was the largest increase among all S&E fields. Computer and information sciences followed, with an 8% increase in NASF. Four S&E fields experienced declines in the amount of NASF available for research, including the physical sciences. The overall decline in NASF for research in physical science was due to a small increase (1%) in astronomy, chemistry, and physics combined with a larger decrease (5%) in earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences. The social sciences experienced the largest decline (8%).

TABLE 2. Science and engineering research space in academic institutions, by field: FY 2007 and FY 2009.

  Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

A significant amount of research NASF (23%) continued to be located in medical schools (table 1). NASF for S&E research in medical schools grew 1% from FY 2007 (43.8 million NASF) to FY 2009 (44.3 million NASF). This compares to growth rates of 8% between FY 2003 and FY 2005 and 9% between FY 2005 and FY 2007.

New Construction of Research Space

Each year many academic institutions begin construction of new space in which to conduct scientific research. New construction of NASF for S&E research began to increase in FY 2008–09 after two biennial periods of substantial declines (table 3). In FY 2006–07 the amount of newly constructed research space fell 13% from the amount constructed in FY 2004–05, reaching a new low of 8.8 million NASF for the decade. This decline followed the previous biennial period decline of 38%. But by FY 2008–09 a total of 171 institutions began construction of almost 10 million NASF for research (table 4), a 13% increase from FY 2006–07. Even with this increase, however, the amount of new construction of NASF begun in FY 2008–09 (9.9 million) was still 39% less than the amount of NASF institutions began in FY 2002–03 (16.2 million).

TABLE 3. New construction of science and engineering research space and medical school research space: FY 2002–09.

  Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

TABLE 4. New construction of science and engineering research space in academic institutions, by field: FY 2008–11.

  Table 4 Source Data: Excel file

Academic institutions started new construction in all S&E fields in FY 2008–09 and planned to continue to do so in FY 2010–11 (table 4). However, most new construction was concentrated in three fields: biological and biomedical sciences, engineering, and health and clinical sciences. Together these three fields made up 76% of all NASF new construction. The new construction of NASF for biological and biomedical sciences research combined with health and clinical sciences composed 55% of the total NASF for S&E research.

Medical schools began new construction of 2.5 million NASF for S&E research in FY 2008–09 (table 3). This was only half the amount of new construction that medical schools began in FY 2002–03.

New Construction Funding Sources

In FY 2008–09 the total costs for new construction of S&E research space at academic institutions reached $7.4 billion (table 5). The sources of funding for these costs typically include the federal government, state or local governments, and institutional and other funds.[3]

TABLE 5. Source of funds for new construction of science and engineering research space in academic institutions, by year of project start and type of institution: FY 2002–09.

  Table 5 Source Data: Excel file

In FY 2008–09 institutional sources contributed $4.5 billion to funding new construction, an increase of $0.79 billion from FY 2006–07. Although the dollar amount of new construction funds from institutional funds increased compared to the previous biennial period, their percentage share of total new construction funds declined (from 62% to 60%). Concurrently, state and local government funding of new construction increased 43% to $2.7 billion. This increased the state and local government share of total funding to 36% in FY 2008–09. The federal government's funding decreased 35% to $236 million, representing 3% of total new construction funds. This federal government share of new construction funding was the lowest reported for any period since the survey began collecting these data (figure 2).

FIGURE 2. Source of funds for new construction of science and engineering research space in academic institutions: FY 1986–09.

  Figure 2 Source Data: Excel file

Planned New Construction

The amount of new construction academic institutions actually began over the decade contrasted greatly with the amount of NASF the institutions had planned to construct. A total of 190 institutions had plans to construct 19 million NASF of research space in FY 2004–05 (table 6). However, only 53% of this amount, or a little over 10 million NASF, was actually started by 164 institutions in FY 2004–05. In FY 2008–09, institutions had started constructing 69% of the amount planned, which was the largest ratio of actual to planned construction for the decade. In FY 2010–11 the smallest number of institutions (n = 136) planned to begin new construction on the least amount of NASF (10.3 million) over the entire decade.

TABLE 6. New and planned construction of science and engineering research space in academic institutions: FY 2002–11.

  Table 6 Source Data: Excel file

Not surprisingly, during the same decade that institutions began construction on less space than they had planned, the amount of new construction deferred rose. In FY 2002–03 academic institutions deferred $8.4 billion in new construction, and by FY 2008–09 the amount deferred rose to $11.5 billion (not shown).

Repair and Renovation

The total costs for repair and renovation of S&E research space at academic institutions begun in FY 2008–09 were about $3.0 billion (table 7). The largest percentage of these costs was for repair and renovation of biological and biomedical science research space (35%) and of health and clinical science research space (23%).

TABLE 7. Costs for repair and renovation of science and engineering research space in academic institutions, by field and time of repair and renovation: FY 2008–11.

  Table 7 Source Data: Excel file

Institutions plan to start about $3.6 billion of repair and renovation in FY 2010–11, a 20% increase over what was started in the previous 2-year period. Similar to FY 2008–09, the largest percentage of these costs was planned in the biological and biomedical sciences (38%) and the health and clinical sciences (23%). Even with these current costs for repair and renovation and the planned costs for FY 2010–11, academic institutions still reported another $5.8 billion in deferred repair and renovation projects included in institutional plans.

Data Sources and Availability

During the production of this InfoBrief, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 was signed into law. Section 505 of the bill renames the Division of Science Resources Statistics as the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). The new name signals the central role of NCSES in the collection, interpretation, analysis, and dissemination of objective data on the science and engineering enterprise.

The data presented in this InfoBrief were obtained from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Survey of Science and Engineering Research Facilities, which collected data from a census of 495 colleges and universities that expended at least $1 million in S&E research and developments funds in FY 2008. Each institution's level of expenditures was obtained from the NSF Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges.

The full set of detailed tables will be available in the forthcoming report Science and Engineering Research Facilities: Fiscal Year 2009 at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/facilities/. Individual detailed tables may be available in advance of the full report. Please contact the author for more information. Current survey data for individual institutions are available from the WebCASPAR database system, a Web tool for retrieval and analysis of statistical data on science and engineering resources (http://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/webcaspar/).

Notes

[1]  Leslie Christovich, Research and Development Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230 (lchristo@nsf.gov; 703-292-7782).

[2]  In addition to academic institutions, the Survey of Science and Engineering Research Facilities also collects data from nonprofit biomedical research institutions (hospitals and research organizations) receiving research funds from the National Institutes of Health. Data from biomedical institutions are not presented in this InfoBrief.

[3]  Institutional funds and other sources may include operating funds, endowments, tax-exempt bonds and other debt financing, indirect costs recovered from federal grants/contracts, private donations, or other sources.


National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Research Space at Academic Institutions Increased 4% Between FY 2007 and FY 2009
Arlington, VA (NSF 11-312) [May 2011]


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