Effect of user fees on core facility income and user behavior: It’s not what you think

J. Hunter
University of Wisconsin-Madison,
United States

Keywords: nanoscale technology, core facilities, user fee


Core facilities are a key component of supporting the research enterprise of research universities. These facilities provide access to discipline-specific expertise, intensive and expensive instrumentation, databases, and other critical shared resources. Core facilities support effective and efficient sharing of costs related to the acquisition, maintenance, and operation of shared resources among a large group of users. Core facilities are a vital part of the university research enterprise, although most of them cannot be cost-neutral based on use-fee income alone, requiring ongoing institutional support. As institutional budgets become increasingly strained, intensive pressure is placed on core facilities to increase user fees with the expectation of raising overall core recharge revenue. We examined 12.5 years of data gathered from large shared-use facilities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Engineering to investigate the impact of use-fee structure on recharge revenue and user behavior.