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Dorms and shops to liven up the campus

Science minister Charlotte Sahl-Madsen argues that a new campus law creates a more lively environment for the universities and attract international students and researchers. But the University of Copenhagen remains sceptical

While Minister of Science Charlotte Sahl-Madsen of the Conservative Party is thrilled about a new campus law, the University of Copenhagen awaits instructions on how the law should be understood.

The Minister of Science expects that the new law will result in 700 youth apartments at the universities in the next five years, 475 of them in Copenhagen. And the universities will flourish, as they will get the opportunity to rent out rooms to cafes, small shops, day-care institutions and laundromats, she believes.

»The campus law will create fantastic environments that will strengthen both studies and research. As for now, we have made the best legal framework, and it is up to the universities to bring the projects I know they have, to life,« Charlotte Sahl-Madsen says.

Better exchange opportunities

This gives an opportunity to rent out new apartments on campus to international students and guest researchers, she thinks.

A new, vivid, atmosphere will also attract Danish students, according to Charlotte Sahl-Madsen.

»When Danish students are abroad, they often get an apartment as part of their exchange programmes. Now Danish universities have the opportunity to reciprocate towards their collaboration partners. The campus law will therefore make it possible for Danish students to go on exchange to better universities, because of the new and more attractive offers we can give our international partner universities,« the minister says.

International students from highly ranked universities will contribute positively to the environment at the Danish campus, she adds.

Not the right medicine

For some years now, The International Office at The University of Copenhagen has struggled with giving international students enough housing possibilities. But Head of Office, John E. Andersen, does not see the new law as the solution.

»The Campus law does not mean that we can build apartments to researchers and students. And even if this is a step forward, it is not the right tool to create the campus we want. The university should not be a building contractor or a landlord and tie up a big part of our budget that should finance research and education instead,« John E. Andersen says.

Looks forward to clarification

He likes the new law’s clarification of what the universities can and cannot do. The University- and Building Committee (UBST) has promised these instructions to be ready by August.

»It is a step forward now that we can get instructions to follow, because a lot of projects have stagnated in the ministry as it has been unclear what we should, and what we should not do,« John E. Andersen explains.

He points out that the financing of the building, and the layout of the housing is still not clarified. This is illustrated by a case from last year, where Copenhagen’s Rent Board (Huslejenævnet) decided that Copenhagen Business School (CBS) had charged four international students too much in rent. CBS could not cover the real costs, but still rented out the apartments.

»It should be of interest to the University of Copenhagen as we cannot use public finances to rent out cheap accommodation to students and researchers. The dilemma is still how to get affordable rooms to a price the students are willing and able to pay,« John E. Andersen says.

Included in a plan for new science district

Hans Halvorsen, the campus’ Head of Office at the University of Copenhagen, thinks there are interesting possibilities that come along with the new campus law.

The activities at the University of Copenhagen will, according to the campus plan, be concentrated in four major campus areas; Nørre Campus, City Campus, Søndre Campus and Frederiksberg Campus.

Nørre Campus, where the Faculties of Pharmacy, Health and Nature Science are, is mainly at the Panum Institute and in the Universitetsparken, and will be part of a new science district in the north of Copenhagen.

A competition has been set up to find the best idea for the development of the science district Nørre campus.

The winner of the competition will be announced 16 September. Until spring 2011, the winner will, along with user representatives, create an actual development plan for the science district.

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