University research space growth slows, NSF finds

March 09, 2017

Research-performing institutions of higher education increased their science and engineering (S&E) research space by only 1.4 percent from FY 2013 to FY 2015, according to the biennial  Survey of Science and Engineering Research Facilities, the lowest two-year percentage increase since NSF started collecting the data in 1988.  In FY 2015, total research space reached 214.7 million net assignable square feet (NASF) – an increase of 2.9 million in NASF from 211.8 million in FY 2013. The rate of increase was substantially below the average two-year growth rate (4.9 percent), as measured from FY 1988 to FY 2015.

Science and engineering research space in academic institutions, change over two-year period: FYs 1988–2015: (source NSF)

In FYs 2014-15, academic institutions broke ground on 5.2 million NASF of new S&E research space construction projects, which was 21.2 percent less than construction space started in FYs 2012–13 (6.6 million NASF). This continues a more than 10-year trend, starting in FYs 2002-03, where smaller amounts of new research space construction have been reported successively for five of the past six survey cycles.

Of the 570 institutions surveyed, the top 5 percent (30 institutions) ranked by total S&E NASF accounted for 35% of all research space in FY15.

nsf, higher ed