Last spring the Rector of the University of Oulu, Jouko Niinimäki, presented a plan to move the Linnanmaa campus of the University of Oulu to Raksila. The project quickly received the working title of city centre campus, and a lot of discussion has been had inside the university community as well as outside it, including the news of Kaleva and Yle. In March (23.3.2020) the Student Union of the University of Oulu (OYY) wrote an open letter to the Board of the University of Oulu, in which OYY supported the city centre campus plan with specific preconditions. The preconditions are the following: 1) Students and staff members are included in all stages of the project’s planning process. 2) The new campus should include sufficient facilities, and the special needs of different fields of study should be taken into account in the planning. 3) The city centre campus should be an interdisciplinary joint campus, which has been the strength of the University of Oulu so far.
Based on public discussion it seems that the earlier set preconditions are no longer being fulfilled. The discussion however has been heavily centred, even in the communication of the University, around the first construction stage of the city centre kampus, in other words around 30 000 squares of floor space, even though the total project includes follow-up stages that have been left outside the public discussion. OYY very well understands that at this stage of the project planning, planning the first stage has to be focused on, but we call for the original vision and total project to be included in the discussion. In the future the University must clarify in its communication regarding the city centre campus that the matter in question is a project ensemble that includes different construction stages. Now it is possible that the communication allows assuming that the University is being scattered around the city.
OYY opposes a model of three campuses, where students have to constantly travel between campuses, and interacting beyond fields of research becomes more difficult. We acknowledge that a temporary stage as such is possible and even necessary when we talk about moving a large university campus. The transitioning period must be designed in a way that students do not have to unnecessarily travel between campuses. A significant strength of the University of Oulu is a communal and interdisciplinary campus. OYY finds that this should be kept in mind when deciding upon the city centre campus, if the University and the city of Oulu are wanted to be seen as a nationally appealing place to study in the future as well.
“The Student Union supports the University moving to Raksila with certain preconditions. We find the opportunity extremely positive, that it would bring the university community closer to the campus of Kontinkangas, when the campus would move physically closer, within walking distance. In the planning of the total project, it must be considered that operating on three campuses is not financially a good or a sensible solution. The basis for the planning of the city centre campus should be how all the operations of Linnanmaa could be moved to Raksila.” states Eetu Leinonen, the Chair of the OYY Board.