The University of Oulu expects the City of Oulu to provide a view on options for possible campus locations
The Board of Directors of the University of Oulu initiated a property strategy analysis in November 2019. As a result, the University Board considered the construction of a new campus in the immediate vicinity of the Oulu city centre the best solution for both operations and finances. Under the direction of the city, a plot in the Raksila district was selected as the planning area, and planning was carried out in cooperation with its current users Arina and Kesko. The City Planning Board and the City Board granted a planning reservation for the project in October 2020.
Analysis carried out under the direction of the city planning showed that the operations can be located in the area. The planning also showed that the university's campus investment would also significantly support the implementation of the Oulu city strategy and city centre vision. The university has carried out the process in accordance with the city's instructions, submitted all the reports and plans required by the city and participated in various hearing and discussion events as requested.
“We appreciate the support expressed by the City Board for implementing the university's property strategy. However, this surprising decision leaves our future plans out in the cold, which is something we are really concerned about. We hope that the city's decision-makers want to find a solution to this situation. To support the campus vision work, we need the city's view on options for possible locations and steering that will help us achieve an end result that safeguards the future of the university and the region,” says the Rector of the University Jouko Niinimäki.
The university hopes that the city's decision-makers will be farsighted and understanding of the fact that the university's operating environment is rapidly transforming and, in order to succeed in the future, the university must be able to renew itself. The city's cooperation is needed to improve the long-term concerns, the management of facility expenses, the attractiveness of the university and the city and the sustainability of operations, which is an increasingly important issue.
“I want to emphasise that supporting the university's objectives means supporting the future of the Oulu region and the entire Northern Finland. The vitality of the region depends to a great extent on the availability of skilled labour, of which we are already concerned about in some fields,” Niinimäki adds.
The university is currently working on a long-term vision of a unified campus structure. The purpose of the vision work is to explore the conditions for forming as unified campus area as possible for the university's operations in Oulu gradually over the next 25 years. At the moment, the operations in Oulu are divided between two campus areas. In the vision work, university students reflect on the future forms of studying, research and societal interaction and what kind of campus would best support them.
The support of the City of Oulu is needed to concretise the campus vision so that an appropriate location for the campus can be found.