Copernic University at the heart of a regional information and communication pole

The Nicolas Copernic University in Torun, Poland, expanded its facilities with the aid of the European Union to provide space for the faculty of mathematics and computer science, fields of excellence for this university campus.

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a view of a new building. a view of a new building.

Context

The Nicolas Copernic University in Torun, in the region of Cujavia-Pomerania in central Poland, is making its contribution to the catching up effort by helping to narrow the “digital divide” through its recognised competences in the fields of mathematics, computer science and statistics.

With the active support of the local authorities and in association with the Technological University of Bydgoszcz, in 2002 the Broadband Communication Network of Kuyavia and Pomerania Region Ltd was set up (www.kpsi.pl). The following year saw the founding of the Regional Centre for ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) as a natural extension of what was already being done on the campus of the Copernic University in Torun. The faculty of mathematics and computer science was housed in a building dating back to the 1930s which, although in good condition, was no longer adequate given the creation of the new Regional Centre. The institution would now have to cater for more than a thousand students, 80 teaching staff and the hundreds of people who attend the training sessions organised by the Regional Centre.

Faculty works

The extension project consisted of adding a new wing to the existing building while respecting its pre-war architecture. Measuring 5 800 square metres this doubled the faculty floor space and included a 350-seat amphitheatre, conference room, 10 IT laboratories, a new reading room added to the library, about 40 offices for members of staff, a small car park, and a bicycle shed. These were all designed to permit access by disabled people. The extension works also provided the opportunity to redesign the faculty to provide more work and leisure space for students who would now have a bar, club and patio at their disposal. The total cost of the project was around four million euros, three-quarters of which (3 million) was financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Voivodia region of Cujavia-Pomerania providing just over 16%. The Polish Government provided a more symbolic contribution of 4.4%, the university itself making the same contribution as well as bearing the not insignificant costs of integrating the new wing.

The relatively short duration (2004-2006) in which the project had to be completed coupled with a tight budget resulted in what project coordinator Professor Adam Jakubowski, former dean of the faculty, described as “painful compromises”. He regrets that there was “no opportunity for real creativity on the part of the architect”.

Results

The expected results fall into two categories. Firstly, the new facilities will permit an improvement in teaching and study conditions that should see student numbers exceed 1 200 within the next three or four years with an academic staff growing to 110. Prestigious international conferences have already been scheduled. Secondly, the project will benefit the famous Regional Centre for ICTs which, according to Professor Jakubowski, plays “a major role in disseminating digital learning in the region and serves as a natural competence centre for the information and communication technologies in secondary schools by organising annual conferences known as ‘Information technology in education’”.

The Regional Centre is also involved in projects organised under the auspices of the European Social Fund. Professor Jakubowski sees in this the potential to make the Cujavia-Pomerania region a pole of competitiveness in the ICTs, subject, he believes, to a political decision to this effect. But he believes the project’s most interesting aspect to be the way it linked the Regional Training Centre to a recognised academic institution. “This is an economic solution offering great flexibility with the two parties using the same infrastructure and also a guarantee of the quality of the training given,” stresses Adam Jakubowski.

Draft date

01/01/2007