PLANS TO establish an international university campus on the lagoon island of San Servolo between Venice and the Lido are forging ahead and regular courses are scheduled for the 1997/98 academic year.
The Venice International University consortium consists of Venice's two universities, Ca'Foscari and the Architecture Institute, North Carolina's Duke University, the Universidad Autonoma of Barcelona and Munich's Ludwig Maximillians Universitat. Two other universities, one of them British, may join the consortium later.
"We will begin in May with seminars organised by Munich's university," said Gianni Toniolo, the Venetian economist who is dean of the academic council. "Then in September we begin undergraduate courses with students and teachers from all five member institutions."
The VIU will be unique. Each university will offer one or more courses which will be available to the students from all five universities. The lingua franca will be English.
The Venice authorities have provided the island of San Servolo for 30 years. Money to restore the splendid 15th century monastery and other buildings came from a Venice bank foundation. Each member university is also contributing to annual running costs of about Pounds 400,000 and covering the living expenses of its students and teachers. Each university has a member in the academic council and on a board of administrators, which is chaired by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Italy's treasury minister and former governor of the Bank of Italy.
"To begin with we will have about 50 students and about a dozen lecturers," said Professor Toniolo. "But numbers will increase gradually with the introduction of two postgraduate courses starting in the spring and autumn of 1998."