Parisian leaders demand Pounds 1.1bn campus revamp

April 17, 1998

LEADERS of the eight Parisian universities are lobbying the French government for a slice of cash from its University of the Third Millennium project to silence complaints about overcrowded and deteriorating campuses.

The university presidents are demanding a modern university centre by the Seine and the renovation of buildings, some of which are ancient monuments.

They are anxious to benefit from the millennium project, having been neglected in the Universite 2000 scheme, which favoured new establishments in the suburbs.

As if to emphasise their point, the presidents presented their list of demands on the 24th floor of the central tower of the dingy 1960s Jussieu campus. They estimate the work will take eight years and cost between FFr10-15 billion (Pounds 1-1.5 billion). The regional Ile-de-France council and the Paris city council would be expected to contribute.

Some 300,000 students study in Paris universities in conditions of overcrowding, scattered sites, dilapidated buildings, poor security and lack of libraries, accommodation, and catering. The universities' problems have been sidelined by the huge task of removing asbestos from Jussieu buildings.

The presidents claimed an extra 150,000 square metres of new premises were needed, including a new university centre on the Left Bank of the Seine. This could accommodate two of the universities - Denis-Diderot (Paris VII), currently based at Jussieu, and Sorbonne-Nouvelle (Paris III) - plus the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales and the Institut de Physique du Globe.

The universities would then restructure and relocate institutes and departments in the newly available space, creating thematic centres for use by specialists from several universities. Also urgently needed, they pointed out, was an international congress centre.

Yves Jeguzo, president of Pantheon-Sorbonne (Paris I) and chairman of Universites de Paris, said: "Our property assets are often in disrepair because of insufficient maintenance budgets, aggravated by specific constraints such as very high buildings or classified historical monuments."

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