Dust test sweeps away office retreats

May 5, 2006

Academics hiding among the bookshelves of their offices should beware of dust. University estates managers have enlisted a cunning ploy - the white-glove test - to help them in their drive to replace traditional private studies with modern-day open-plan offices.

For cost-conscious officials, the logic is irrefutable: the more dust they find on your books, the less you read them, the less you need an office to keep them in and the more reason to move you to a shared space.

Sue Holmes, assistant director of estates at Sheffield Hallam University and one of many fans of the test, said: "You can tell that the books have not been opened since they were bought ten years ago."

Alun Woodruff, head of estates at Glamorgan University, put it more directly: "Academics have to get real. Space costs a lot of money."

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