Two new buildings opened
In January, the first students and staff from the Faculty of Social Sciences moved into their new home, the Maria Montessori building. The official opening of this new architectural eye-catcher in the centre of the campus took place on 27 May and, due to the pandemic, was an online celebration. A video link was used to share information about the sustainable character of the new building, among other things.
Before that, the Faculty of Social Sciences had largely been housed in a series of buildings on the Thomas van Aquinostraat, the striking street that has been almost completely demolished. It is hoped that the much more open feel of the Maria Montessori building will encourage people to come together. Another gain is the greening of the surroundings. Thanks to the much smaller footprint of the new building compared to the demolished complexes, a lot of space has been freed up – and used – to enhance the park-like character of the campus.
The second new build concerns the new digital exam location on Comeniuslaan. Strictly speaking, this is not a new building, but a renovation of the former premises of various policy departments and the university administration. It will now be called the Comenius building. After a complete metamorphosis, the interior now features several exam rooms spread over two buildings (over 900 seats in total), with a good climate control system, excellent ICT facilities, sustainable lighting and a connection to the campus’s hybrid energy network.
Gerben Smit, Director of Campus & Facilities, calls the new digital assessment facility an improvement for both students and staff. For students, it provides even better conditions for taking exams, while the facility can make work easier for the staff. “For example, faster marking. Once we get used to it, it will have a years-long effect and it can reduce work-related stress.”
“Once we get used to the new digital assessment facility, it will have a years-long effect and it can reduce work-related stress.”
This year, the first steps were taken towards the new campus plan, which will include new buildings, renovations and programmes and offer a preview of 2040. It will include plans to enhance the liveliness and use of the campus, with, for example, new student housing and commercial projects.
Focus on the room shortage for international students
At the start of the 2021–2022 academic year, 10.8% of our students were international students (and that excludes the 160 exchange students). The increase in the number of international students is causing a shortage in the student housing market – a national phenomenon – partly due to the reduced flow of students (and graduates) to other accommodation.
Radboud University feels it is its duty to arrange housing for this special target group. 90% of our international students gratefully use this service. But the allocation that SSHN student housing association (SSH&) makes available to this target group – 1,044 rooms – is too small, which is reason for us to take extra steps. In December 2021, plans were unveiled for new student complexes. Half will be built by SSH& (also intended for ‘regular’ students), and the complexes will be built on campus and elsewhere in the city.
Meanwhile, student housing is the subject of twice-yearly administrative consultations with the Municipality of Nijmegen, HAN University of Applied Sciences and SSH&. Twice a year there are also consultations with student organisations, Huurteams Nijmegen and private landlords. The university is also taking measures to curb the influx. For example, international students are urged not to come to Nijmegen if they have not found accommodation four weeks before the start of the study programme. This call goes out to every student who registers after 1 May. Recruitment events will also be stopped after this date.
Focus on accessibility
Radboud University operates on the principle that its buildings should not be a barrier to people with disabilities. New buildings and large-scale renovations are based on the ITS standard (Dutch integrated accessibility standard for persons with a disability), an initiative from the Dutch umbrella organisation for people with disabilities. If this is not sufficient in specific cases, additional measures are taken; there is a personal budget available for this purpose. After assessment by the administrative directors of the faculties, the Campus & Facilities division (in consultation with the Occupational Health Officer) will initiate the required additional adjustments, customised for the individual staff member or student.