Are there any standards in higher education (any country) on when lecturers (any level, any field) have a private office or a shared office?

I know it's a good idea to provide 'consultation time' for students as one-on-one teaching helps the student in so many ways. However, in a shared office it seems that some of the benefits of one-on-one teaching disappear. For example, the student is less likely to be concerned about how they look in front of others if it's in a private office but if there are other teachers (perhaps with other students) then your student will have those issues again.

So, are there any standards about private vs shared offices for university lecturers?

  • 19
    Are there any standards in higher education... — No.
    – JeffE
    Mar 29, 2013 at 13:33

4 Answers 4


You're going to find answers all over the map for this one (i.e., there probably aren't "standards"). I personally like having a private office so I can get the most work done, but I'm generally comfortable with a shared space if it doesn't get too loud. I have found that it is rare for students to worry about how they perform if they are just trying to get help figuring out the material. If there are conference rooms or open classrooms available, that's sometimes a good place to tutor students, too.

For what it's worth, I never have closed door meetings with students because that has the potential to lead to allegations of improper relationships, etc. If a student does have something private to discuss, I'll ask them to take a walk around campus where we are visible but can't be heard, or to go into a conference room that has windows into the hallway.

  • 6
    +1 For that has the potential to lead to allegations of improper relationships, etc.
    – Nobody
    Mar 29, 2013 at 5:34
  • 6
    +1 for same reason as @scaaahu. My advisor would never close the door while meeting with students, and my wife's advisor does the same. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of not being accused of inappropriate behavior.
    – eykanal
    Mar 29, 2013 at 12:11
  • 2
    I think there's still a big difference between having the door open and having someone else actually in the room (probably trying to do their own work) during a meeting with a student, though.
    – Tara B
    Mar 29, 2013 at 15:09

I don't think there are likely to be any standards that address this issue specifically.

For example, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, one of the recognized regional accrediting agencies in the US, has published its standards. The closest they come to discussing office space is Standard 2.G.1:

Consistent with its mission, core themes, and characteristics, the institution creates and maintains physical facilities that are accessible, safe, secure, and sufficient in quantity and quality to ensure healthful learning and working environments that support the institution’s mission, programs, and services.

Obviously this leaves a lot of leeway. If an institution were to assign 17 professors to a broom closet, an accrediting agency might take note, but private offices versus shared isn't likely to be addressed.

In the US, I have seen places where everyone from graduate instructors on up gets private offices, and I have seen places where even full professors share.

If you're looking for arguments to convince your dean that your department needs more office space, I doubt that standards are the way to go about it.


I can give two views:

In France, quite often you share office with other people from the same department. However, offices are in general a no-meeting space as long as your office mates are there and are not part of the meeting. You have black/white-boards on the corridors, several small meeting rooms etc. Of course, coming into an office and chatting for 1 or 2 minutes is usually fine. On the other hand, people even go to the corridor to answer their cell phone, so that they don't disturb others.

In the Czech Republic, it depends mostly on the space available. However, in general at the universities, silence in an office is less a standard than in France.


Everybody needs privacy; to really discuss this issue some ambiguities must be removed. Imagine a chemistry lecturer sharing an office with a political science lecturer? This will only lead to total confusion. Though it might help both lecturers to diversify their ideas, but will not help academically.

I would suggest one senior lecturer with an assistant lecturer from the same field sharing an office. This will help the junior lecturer, and one hopes that the senior academic may learn from his/her younger colleague as well.


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