They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot. Well, some universities are certainly pleasant environments but perhaps not paradisaical. And many of them do have parking lots. Or car parks as we like to say in our quaint way.
Clark Kerr, former chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, beyond being remembered for his extraordinary work in developing higher ed in that state, is renowned for two major observations about parking. His first, much cited and frequently modified, was that as Chancellor he found
the three major administrative problems on a campus are sex for the students, athletics for the alumni, and parking for the faculty.
Another highly accurate comment was his pithy summary of the essence of a university, which he suggested consists of
a series of individual faculty entrepreneurs held together by a common grievance over car parking.
Disappointingly though he had little to say on the need for car parking rankings of universities.
Inside Higher Ed a few years back offered a helpful commentary on university car parking issues in which it noted that parking reformers in the US were looking to make major changes to traditional approaches to car parking including charging people more for rockstar parking spots. “Demand-based parking” means that the best spots near the centre of campus and high-traffic buildings would cost the most and spaces at the edge of campus would cost less.
Some UK universities have undoubtedly adopted similar approaches with other features being evident too including paying more for guaranteed spaces and less for a ‘license to hunt’ for a space. Others have introduced differential parking charges based on engine size and emissions ratings. Still more have sought to reduce spaces and promote cycling and public transport. Nottingham is still the only city in the UK which has introduced a Workplace Parking Levy which means that the universities pay the City Council a fee for every car parking space.
Again though we have a chronic lack of parking ranking information about US or UK universities. Until now that is. Thanks to the wonderful people at HESA, who have recently published a set of estates related data about UK HE, Wonkhe is now able to present a breakthrough league table, the very first car parking ranking for the sector. It’s a masterpiece of sophistication and sheer data manipulation cleverness if we say so ourselves and it knocks all of those other smart alec rankings, from the silly Spiked thing to the one about astronauts, very much into a cocked hat.
“Hi everyone – DK here – you might remember me from such posts as “Here’s some data”, “Look at all this data”, and “I’ve got some data to show you”. The HESA Estates data release from earlier this month is a veritable trove of insight on campus parking, offering both information on the number of spaces available and the proportion of each of the staff and student body that commute in various ways. Because the data set also offers staff and student FTE figures for the year in question (2016/17) it was easy enough to convert this information into a proxy of parking demand by vehicle – using a value of 1 for sole drivers and – guessing at a modal value – 0.5 for car-sharers. Comparing this with the number of available spaces gives us an ease of parking value – 100% means that there is one space per imputed vehicle, more than this means there are spaces to spare, and less means you’ll be struggling to park.
However – not all institutions provided these splits, so in those cases I used regional figures from the most recent National Transport Survey (and devolved variants). This is a decent proxy, but is not sensitive to the unique setting of each campus, so I’ve added a column flagging where this substitution has been made. Institutions that have not even provided a value for the number of parking spaces they have are not featured in this table.
You can search to highlight the institution you are interested in, or use the filter to create regional or mission group tables. Note that each sub-table is ranked independently – rankings from the main table are not preserved.”
That ranking in full
There is much to get excited about in here, not just about which university has the most spaces and which is best able to meet the needs of staff and students (for car parking, not the other things Clark Kerr suggested) and how early do staff at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Guildhall School of Music and Drama have to get up to secure one of their two (2!) car parking spaces. There is much, much more to chew on.
And here’s the table in all its glory with Portsmouth proudly occupying the top slot. Which university is going to pave its paradise in the coming year and put up a parking lot to guarantee them the top slot? Get planning all you Estates Directors…