Interuniversity campus in Smart City: 5 perspectives

How will the construction of such an object affect the development of Kazan universities and the city itself?

At the strategic session on designing the development of science and technology on the basis of Tatarstan universities held in the last days of November, the news was announced that a grandiose university campus is planned to be built in the Laishevsky district of our republic. It is intended to become the basis for the creation of a world-class scientific and educational centre. The development of universities with the use of large-scale development tools has been one of the key areas of higher education development for several years, but until now this has almost never happened with the universities of our republic. The new project of the regional authorities allows us to think about how such an initiative can affect the development of Kazan universities in particular and the city as a whole. Anna Svirina, the vice-rector for science and development of the TISBI University of Management, discusses the five perspectives of the construction of the interuniversity campus in her author's column for Realnoe Vremya.

Statistical perspective

    Students, professors, researchers and other university-related employees make up almost 10% of the population of Kazan. That there are so many of them is noticeable if we compare roads and public transport in June and in July (in June, there are no schoolchildren and the traffic associated with them, and in universities, on the contrary, it is examination period — a rush season). Probably, a comparable number of people are involved in retail. To imagine what it means building a declared interuniversity campus and move universities there, imagine for a second: shopping centres and chain stores of Kazan have moved to the airport area. Such a large-scale change involves every third household in the city.

    Cultural perspective

    The second perspective is to some extent a continuation of the first. Kazan is a university city and the capital. Universities have been built in such cities for a long time, and their inhabitants largely determine what the city centre looks like. With them, the centre becomes more dynamic, looks younger, there are more slightly strange establishments in it in the eyes of the layman — and the city becomes different. Certainly, Kazan is not Uppsala (a city in Sweden — ed.), which has 20 thousand people in summer, and more than 100 thousand in winter, and yet it is difficult for me to imagine the heart of Kazan without a student community that adds colours to it. Even without professors in the centre, the city will become different.

    Research perspective

    Modern research often requires a huge infrastructure. Probably, there are no plans to make a version of the Large Hadron Collider on the interuniversity campus, but some of the laboratories of KNRTU-KAI, KNRTU, KFU, especially those related to modern engineering, sometimes require gigantic areas. From this point of view, being not squeezed by architectural monuments in the city centre, but by the owners of a large campus is more to the advantage of universities: the laboratories scattered around the city now could be combined in one place. At the same time, when planning such changes, it should be remembered that the transfer of part of the equipment may not be possible for technical reasons — it will fail during transportation (although it may be difficult to believe after moving the TU-144).

    Comparative perspective

    If they talk about changes in the organisation of higher education, they usually recall the experience of other countries. Answering the question about how they are, we will have to state that everywhere is different. In the USA, universities are often moved to the outskirts of cities, and they occupy huge territories. In Europe, on the contrary, universities are often located in the centres of old capitals, in historical buildings, of which only the facades remain, and inside there is a modern interior and functional content. Both options have their advantages, one thing remains unchanged — universities change the environment around them, wherever they are.

    Logistics perspective

    Laishevsky and Vysokogorsky districts, according to statistics, are the areas with an increasing population, which fully corresponds to the logic of the development of agglomerations. The construction of the interuniversity campus in the Laishevsky district, which has been actively developed in recent years, will also require reformatting the transport system, because a tenth of the city's residents will live and work here. Logically, there will be a question about transport and roads, new interchanges and related tasks.

    A significant change in the infrastructure of the educational complex of Kazan is a grandiose project, as is much that is being implemented in the republic. The described five perspectives are only the first questions that arise when you think about how it will be implemented in life.

    Anna Svirina

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