RECOVERY: INVESTING IN THE URBAN CAMPUS
The pandemic hit Italy hard. Experts anticipate socio-economic challenges that Italy faces in many angles and levels. However, where challenges exist, opportunities arise. On 21 July, EU leaders agreed on committing 1824.3 billion Euros which includes the extraordinary recovery effort to rebuild the EU after the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders of the Italian knowledge ecosystem are strongly endorsing stakeholders to turn these challenging times around to the greatest recovery momentum and many agree that rejuvenation of higher education is an economic wild card due to its impact on global talent attraction and retention. Global talent loves Italy for its rich heritage and culture. However, higher education and infrastructure that supports the development of the sustainable knowledge ecosystem have to catch up in order to reclaim its world-class reputation and to continue generating local and international interests. Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI) and Mayors of major Italian university cities, therefore, recommend investing in higher education is the priority in Italy’s recovery. Cities like Florence, Milan, and Rome are or have already rezoned large industrial and railway districts to create the next urban economy. The provision rate of student housing in Italy is still very low presenting the market potential ready to be fully explored.
During The Class Conference 2018 in Milan, we identified the opportunity of transforming the post-industrial spaces into ‘concrete playground’ for creative, entrepreneurial spirits of their respective cities. These brownfield sites are ripe opportunities for transformation, perfect for cultivation into idea breeding grounds by the municipalities they lie within. We also confirmed a strong desire of the local knowledge centres like universities to reimagine and redefine former industrial landscapes to act as urban campuses where their students can experiment and learn to contribute to new societal wants and needs of our new, global world-order. In September 2020, when most Italian universities are expected to open their campus with blended learning, we will bring together the key stakeholders across university cities, higher education, and student housing to explore intensified opportunities the new normal will present.