Tag Archives: univer-cities

Exploring the European campus – in Germany (again)

by Alexandra den Heijer

The past two days I was in Stuttgart, giving a lecture for Universität Stuttgart at their Campus 2030 Symposium (180 Zuschauern): Universität Stuttgart. The hand-out of my presentation can be found under DOWNLOADS.


The discussion about branding both the city and the university to attract students and other knowledge workers was very similar to discussions last year in Delft and Bochum – see blog: STUDENT AS TOURIST (2013).

Stadtbibliothek / Library Stuttgart - more info:

Stadtbibliothek / Library Stuttgart – more info: WIKIPEDIA

Stuttgart has so much to offer – including the impressive new Stadtbibliothek (2011, see photo above). Personally, my attraction to Stuttgart also has everything to do with the automobile industry – with highlights like the Mercedes Museum and Porsche Museum – see blog MANAGING THE AUTOMOBILE CAMPUS (2011) and UNIVER-CITY STUTTGART (2013).

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Where to study? Students become tourists

by Alexandra den Heijer

If students could study anywhere, where would they go? My theory: they would select their learning environment the same way as tourists do: places with unique qualities – usually cultural heritage – and attractive public space, densely populated areas that encourage social encounters or at least give a sense of place. At the same time many universities in the world are adding new buildings to ‘could be anywhere’ locations – usually isolated campuses – with not much attention for public space or public transport to the city. Of course, researchers that need specialized labs that are only available on specific locations will still come, but more and more university activities become place-independent and flexible to accommodate. Paradoxically, more place independency makes (quality of) place more important. If students can go anywhere, why would they go to your campus or univer-city? Or why would they stay in your univer-city after graduation?

These questions were asked (and answered) in three sessions in the past week:
– June 14, 2013 – 3-hour session about Univer-city Bochum in Germany (see previous post Univer-city Bochum, Germany);
– June 18, 2013 – 2-hour meeting about a common agenda for Delft “Univer-City” with TU Delft’s executive board (College van Bestuur) and the mayor and aldermen of Delft (Burgemeester & Wethouders)
– June 21, 2013 – two 1-hour sessions about the importance of the city for universities at a VSNU retreat for executive boards of all 14 Dutch (research) universities

All three presentations of the past week can be found under DOWNLOADS.

Univer-city checklist, based on TU Delft research (Den Heijer, Curvelo Magdaniel, Bentinck, Tzovlas)

Univer-city checklist, based on TU Delft research (Den Heijer, Curvelo Magdaniel, Bentinck, Tzovlas)

Since the goals of cities (regions) and universities are increasingly similar – attracting and retaining knowledge workers for economic growth or (keeping/improving) their position in the global rankings – the strategic agendas are more and more alike. All the more reason to align them. The lack of resources to plan independently and ‘the brain drain already taking place’ are two more reasons to collaborate – before it is too late (and knowledge workers and their economic value have moved elsewhere).

During these discussions (after my lecture or introduction) the following comments were remarkable:

– in Bochum, Germany (a president of one of the “Hochschulen”): “A substantial group of my employees never visits the city of Bochum – they do not spend any euro here”
– student housing and – after that – alumni housing is crucial (one of the aldermen in Delft): “First house, first child: if you can keep the knowledge worker long enough, they will decide to settle and grow roots”
– in the end “place attachment” depends on alumni finding work – in the meantime: stimulating and accommodating entrepreneurial activities will be one of the collective tasks of university and municipality
– at the VSNU retreat both groups concluded that there are niche Master tracks (i.e. agriculture), world-famous (i.e. Ivy League) universities or unique research institutes (i.e. CERN) that will attract students and other knowledge workers despite their location or quality of buildings, but there are many, many more ‘same quality universities’ that offer similar Bachelor/Master/PhD programmes and compete on other qualities, including their physical (urban) setting.

Some facts from research:
EU Study Portals published research (2012) about “reasons to study abroad” – 25% mentioned academic quality, 24% city/culture/country;
– UK research (HEDQF 2012) showed that 1/3 of all students admit to have rejected a university based on the (poor quality of) the physical environment; that does not necessarily mean “buildings in bad condition”, but could also refer to an isolated campus or lack of social space.

Every discussion about the university of the future includes scenarios about increasingly ‘virtual’ universities (also in my own book). Many policy makers state: “Students in 2040 will be completely different: we can not predict how they will behave.” The physical campus will completely disappear? No, because one thing will not change (ever): biology. Let’s face the facts: students are not just attending our universities to learn, but also to meet people, to start relationships – sometimes for life.

Leave a comment

Filed under research

Univer-City Bochum, Germany

by Alexandra den Heijer

Today I am experiencing Univer-City Bochum on a Saturday, after presenting my view on univer-cities for an all German audience yesterday evening. See C60 collaboratorium website for more info about the project in German.

6577_481536765250226_1095010274_nBMy29AACUAER7fS (1)

Goal of the Univer-City Bochum project is to create a place to meet, to experiment and work for students, academics and start-ups of the 7 universities (Hochschulen) in Bochum.

Start small, brand the area, gradually develop and don’t ever finish… Those were some themes of the discussion with the audience yesterday evening.

The hand-out of my presentation can be found under DOWNLOADS.

Leave a comment

Filed under international network

Discussing UniverCities in Stuttgart

by Alexandra den Heijer

After two months closer to home – with the exception of an inspiring visit to the European Commission in Brussels – it was time to travel again for a lecture in Stuttgart, Germany. I was invited by Städtebau-Institut Universität Stuttgart, Germany (prof. dr. Helmut Bott), see TOUR or university website for program and speakers.

My last time in Stuttgart – in 2011 – I wrote a post “Managing the Automobile campus” (link), which has some parallels with managing university campuses. I will write more after my lecture, which can already be found under DOWNLOADS.

Geography of Global Top Knowledge base / Overall score - Flavia Curvelo Magdaniel, 2012 Data: The Times Higher Education Top Universities rankings 2011-2012

Geography of Global Top Knowledge base / Overall score – Flavia Curvelo Magdaniel, 2012
Data: The Times Higher Education Top Universities rankings 2011-2012

PS My presentation also included work of PhD candidate Flavia Curvelo Magdaniel. Some of our publications can be found under PUBLICATIONS. More information about Flavia and her research: FLAVIA CURVELO MAGDANIEL.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“Leading the way” AUDE conference 2012

by Alexandra den Heijer

On April 2, 2012 I was invited to speak at Loughborough University for the AUDE conference (the UK Association of University Directors of Estates). The hand-out of the presentation can be found under DOWNLOADS after my presentation. The 3-minute movie “The making of BK city” can be found with a link to YouTube under CASE BK CITY.

European Univer-cities in the top 150 worldwide - figure from Flavia Curvelo Magdaniel's research

Lessons so far:
-1- the importance of ‘managing expectations’ – engaging both students and staff in the strategic, financial and physical context (and challenges) to put their functional demands into perspective, which also is a key factor in their satisfaction;
-2- the relation between the physical campus and regional knowledge economy (‘town gown’ – univer-city) – see figure Knowledge cities in Europe, representing universities in the global top 150, source QS Times Higher Education ranking 2011, edited by PhD researcher Flavia Curvelo Magdaniel, see BOOK DESIGN for her background and résumé;
-3- balancing the strategy of ‘creating a community and home base’ and sharing space and collaborating with partners in higher education, business or industry;
-4- considering students as long-term stakeholders and not as customers; when students become alumni the value of their diploma will be associated with the quality of the institution for life and alumni could (and do) also play an important role in education and research, in the primary processes (giving lectures) and in branding their ‘alma mater’ in practice. This could be a basis for alumni funding.

Leave a comment

Filed under international network, research

Exploring univer-cities

by Alexandra den Heijer

Today I attended the conference “Gebiedsontwikkeling Slim Vlottrekken” [Urban area development: smart solutions – see http://www.gebiedsontwikkling.nu] in Utrecht to present one of the spin-offs of my campus research project: “Managing the univer-city”. We use this term for the merged model of the campus and/in/as the city [“and/in/as” depends on both the physical setting and how well urban authorities and universities collaborate].


For the spin-off project “Managing the univer-city” TU Delft hired PhD candidate Flavia Curvelo Magdaniel, who also connected the knowledge city and the university campus in her Master thesis. More about her profile and background can be found under BOOK DESIGN (because Flavia was responsible for the graphic design of the book). For this project we collaborate with the academic groups of Urban Area Development, Corporate Real Estate Management, Urbanism and Urban Economics.

For publications and recent presentations about univer-cities, “campus & city” and knowledge cities scroll the (chronological) list under DOWNLOADS. A review in Dutch online can be found online: gebiedsontwikkeling.nu

session about “univer-city” Coolhaven, Rotterdam – Caroline Giezeman (r), Alexandra den Heijer (m), Roderick van Houwelingen (l) – photo: Jean van Lingen.

Leave a comment

Filed under national network (Netherlands)