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ON THE HORIZON:The Haihe Education Park
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The Haihe Education Park

By Richard Cook

BT 201507 05 On the horizon 001Across China a higher education revolution is taking place. At the heart of this revolution are countless university developments coinciding with the overall national economic development plan. For Nankai and Tianjin Universities, the state investment programs in the education sector has significantly opened the door for new campus development programs and for the last few years construction teams have been working round the clock to build two new campuses for the city.

The new campuses are frequently referred to as a breath of fresh air in the Tianjin education community, which will provide sublime new facilities to bolster the growing demand for a new type of Chinese graduate. President Xi has systematically called for the new generation of Chinese students to be the "great innovators and entrepreneurs" to steer China into a new era. In the years building up to this new education revolution, China was all too aware of the shabby state of its universities, whilst only a select few were granted a significantly larger proportion of the development funds. However, with the12th Five-Year-Plan, this situation has changed and in the midst of China's economic restructuring the higher education sector has received a much needed boost. This is the last year of the 12th Five-Year-Plan and plans for the 13th Five-Year-Plan, due to be executed between 2016 and 2020, are well underway. Within the top five points of this plan, vast sums of investment are again expected to bolster the gains by the 985 program and the C9 League (Equivalent to the US Ivy League).

BT 201507 04 On the horizon hlIt was in 2009, in the sunset of the Olympics, in which the planning began and within two years the Ministry of Education and the Tianjin Municipality signed an agreement to build the Haihe Education Park in Jinnan District, a few minutes southeast of the city.

The planning style follows a nationwide trend of constructing new campuses outside of the inner city area. The concept of the new campus developments are orchestrated around a "three fusion plan". (1) Student growth, referring to the ability to expand capacity; (2) Agglomeration, meaning the focus of maintaining strong links between the two universities by constructing both campuses in the new education park; (3) And the improvement of facilities. Collectively these points are supposed to represent the synthesis of education development within Tianjin.

To get another view of the development we asked some students and a university official about the new education park.

梁爽(David) a student of Nankai University said, "Although the new campus is a fantastic development I am a little concerned about the links between the Jinnan and Baliti Campuses. Travelling between the two and maintaining student activities will be a challenge, considering there will only be a bus route available and until the new metro line opens this will be a big challenge for students and student societies".

子楠 (LeBron) from Tianjin University stated, "The new campus will have a lot of new facilities that can greatly help our studies. It is really exciting. Also the Jinnan developments mean more opportunities and a greater networking reach to the Binhai area, which is good for our plans when we graduate."

Speaking to Business Tianjin, Miss Li of the Nankai International Office stated that, "It is a very important step for Nankai's development. In recent years Nankai has established new schools and disciplines yet there is no room for them on the current campus. The new campus will solve this problem. Also, student living standards will be raised with the new campus."

BT 201507 06 On the horizon 002However, students and the area of Jinnan shouldn't expect to be cut off from the city centre. Coinciding with these developments, the new metro lines are expected to open within a year, providing there are no more significant delays. Metro lines 5 and 6 will complete a much needed metro ring around the city and also branch off towards the new Jinnan area. Also Metro line 1 is due to be extended further south, pointing at a new wave of development to fill the southern/eastern gap between the city centre and Binhai.

The completion of Education Park falls on the 120th anniversary of the opening of Tianjin's inner city campus, on Weijin Lu. The new park will dwarf the old campuses of Tianjin and Nankai Universities combined, reaching a total of 70 million square metres. Yet to be completed is the 100,000 square metres of green space as well as a vast amount of environmentally friendly water collectors. Some of the other infrastructure specs that are noteworthy are the 24km of road, 33.7km of drainage and 3.2km of gas energy pipeline. Total costs for the project are approximately 4.2 billion CNY.

Campus operations will commence this September, meaning a vast new student population will settle in the "promised land" as the Ministry of Education called it. For the Jinnan area, a huge new student market will boom meaning a host of student related companies will be keen to open offices and facilities in the area. A new deal between Nankai University and Glasgow University (U.K.) humanities departments has already excited business owners as a large international student community will settle here too. The new campuses of both Universities are expected to prop up the growing international student sector for Tianjin and with that come youthful and experienced employees for the future.


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