The House of Black and White

First a quick warning: I don’t personally like watering down large and complex issues for the sake of word count limitations. So this is going to take a while.

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As you probably remember, we sent you a campus questionnaire earlier this year, asking your opinion of the pros and cons of different campus options, e.g. the current Töölö-Otaniemi model and a model where the entire School of Business would be moved to Otaniemi in the 2020’s. Here is a closer look at what has been happening on background and what you could expect from the future.

Last fall the School of Business founded a campus task force to consider the future of our campus model. The main topics were the benefits and hindrances of campuses in Otaniemi and Töölö and the question about the long-term location for the Master’s students. The main drivers for the process were the ineffective usage of the School’s current premises in Töölö and the quick development of the Otaniemi campus – in other words, if the School wants to move all its functions to Otaniemi in near future, it should be executed when there still are central locations left where to build the new BIZ building. A member of KY Board was included in the task force to bring student perspective to the process.

The mission was not to make any decisions – as this is something that is up to the University Board – but to create a common vision paper to present the shared opinion of the School to the principal and the Board. The School created a survey for its staff; we created another for KY members. In the end of the day, the shared vision was not founded, as there were radically different views about the best ideas and the procedures alike.  Nevertheless, with all the drama and dissenting opinions involved, the task force finished its report, which can be found here (demands logging in with your Aalto-user). The report includes the results of KY’s survey. 

In KY’s survey, most of the students were against moving to Otaniemi, percentages being 25 % for, 9 % indifferent and 67 % against. An especially interesting observation was that the most anti-Otaniemi group of answerers were the new mursus, whereas the Master’s students of Töölö had a more even response distribution. Nevertheless, the majority of all groups preferred the Töölö-Otaniemi –model.

A large portion of you expressed your concerns regarding the possible loss of School’s prestige and stature. Otaniemi was not seen as a place that supports the business student identity. That is something we are determined to change, in spite of whether Otaniemi will be home for just the Bachelor’s students or also the Master’s students. Part of the problem is that the new premises in U-wing lack the “business school feeling” and school tradition. The School agrees that this is an important topic and we will be looking for ways to fix the situation together. Any ideas for how the U-wing should be developed are welcome.

Several answers focused on today’s campus conditions and public transport. The undeniable fact is that the 2015-2016 version of Otaniemi with all the bus problems, closed roads and unclear practices with the impersonalized university premises has been far from perfect.  Still, we are talking about a time frame of dozens of years here and things can and will get better in Niemi – the metro alone will fix some of the problems. Still the concerns about e.g. the current service situation in Otaniemi are both relevant and important.

However, what is more or less fixed if chosen to move to Otaniemi and to build a new building is the new building itself (everyone in BIZ agrees that any combination of old Otaniemi premises will not be an option). So if there was a decision to move the Master’s students, it would be absolutely crucial to have modern and elegant premises with certainly enough of sufficient space for years to come. The task force report includes a calculation of the preferred spaces, but even smallish changes to that could mean a world when examined in long term focus.

We had a lot of black-and-white answers to our survey – understandably so – but the outcome of the whole idea would be greatly affected by the details of the would-be-new building. Unfortunately, the only option that has been analyzed in-depth is “Väre 2”, the optional additional building for the new ARTS building / Metro center. Though in a very good location, that option would probably not have the sufficient amount of permitted building volume without rearrangements, and alternative options would have to be discovered as well.

No matter what will or will not be decided, we will stand by, ensure that students’ voice is heard and keep you informed.

Juho Paavola
Member of the Executive Board, Academic Affairs

tl;dr: Masters may or may not go to Otaniemi in n years or more.