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Lead-up to decision on Campus LiU 2015

At the meeting of the University Board on February 16, one item on the agenda will be “decision regarding Campus LiU 2015”. In the lead-up to the decision, the project describes the basic ideas of the construction plan and answers a number of questions.

  1. What is Campus LiU 2015?
  2. Why the above wishes - student environments and bringing together of workplaces?
  3. What is the University Board given as the basis for this and similar decisions? Where are we in the decision process?
  4. Who are the contractors at present?
  5. When the new construction or renovation has been completed, how will the leasing costs be distributed?
  6. How much would the implementation of Campus LiU 2015 cost, and are the requirements of the University Board being met? What is the overall cost scenario?
  7. Why won’t Campus LiU entail more than a 3% increase in leasing costs?
  8. The proposal includes the demolition of Origo Building - is it appropriate to knock down a functioning building?
  9. What will the impact be on staff in administration, faculty offices, libraries and Didacticum – and the rest of Campus Valla – during the construction period?
  10. What will happen if the University Board says no?
  11. How will the core activities cope with these repeated cost increases?


1. What is Campus LiU 2015?

The project includes proposals for a combined solution to the wishes that have been around for a long time: primarily, creating attractive student environments, including libraries, study areas and service functions with the student in the centre; there is also collocating the central administration and the faculty offices for reasons of efficiency and bringing workplaces closer to each other to help collaboration.
Campus LiU 2015 is based both on the premise that research and education will continue to play a central role in the national policy of developing Sweden, and on the conviction that LiU has the strength to acquit itself well in the future university landscape.

2. Why the above wishes – student environments and collocating workplaces?

Attractive student environments? In the most recent student survey (“NSI” 2012), about 50% the respondents submitted a free-form answer. Two thirds of the free-form answers concerned the students’ everyday environment, such as access to study areas for individual and group work, access to food/food areas/microwave ovens, and wireless networks. The students look upon the university as their place of work where they spend their time – not just between lectures, but also on days without scheduled classes. This is particularly apparent, as LiU is and will continue to be an authentic campus university where meetings between teachers and students – and also between students – is part of the overall vision, as expressed in the LiU strategy map and elsewhere. Even students who have relatively few scheduled lessons spend a large amount of their time on campus.

Collocating administrative functions? Currently these functions are spread over 7 locations across Campus Valla, which hinders efficient working methods. Campus LiU 2015 offers a proposal whereby all central administrative management and the faculty offices are brought together under one roof (the renovated D Building) with the exception of the medical faculty office, which will remain on University Hospital Campus. There will, however, be access to work stations on Campus Valla for faculty office staff. Some of the premises currently being used for administration are not of the required quality and are in need of refurbishment, which was one of the motivating factors for finding a new solution.

Bringing localities closer for work on collaboration? The significance of collaborative work has become increasingly apparent, and it is more than likely that the future will entail assessing our efforts in collaboration as a basis for what funding allocations we will receive –analogous to how it already happened as regards research and education. Today a number of LiU staff with commissions to facilitate collaboration in the form of innovation and commercialisation support have their workplaces off-campus, which hinders the integration of collaboration work through natural daily contact with LiU teachers and students. This proposal would entail collocating collaboration tasks in Zenit Building.

3. What is the University Board given as the basis for this and similar decisions?
Where are we in the decision process?

The University Board is responsible for decisions on new construction and renovation that result in a major cost increase. The process involves the Board being informed in a number of stages. Initially the needs are described, then a decision is made about the planning process – which makes it possible to estimate the costs – and after that decisions are made on a preliminary leasing agreement, which is the point that will be carried out at the February meeting and involves the start of construction.

In advance of this meeting the Board tasked the Vice-Chancellor both with describing once again the need for changes to premises and with estimating what costs the project is expected to involve. Prior to this the Board expressed its fundamental standpoint that the total cost for premises, for all of LiU, must not exceed the target of 15% of LiU’s total costs. The Vice-Chancellor has also been tasked with conducting an inquiry into more efficient use of existing premises; this documentation will also be provided to the Board in the form of the “LEA report” (a report on the efficient use of premises).

4. Who are the contractors at present?

The Swedish state has created a public company called Akademiska Hus to be the main providers of suitable premises for higher education institutions. The land and the buildings on Campus Valla are owned by Akademiska Hus, which is the only group who can build there on behalf of LiU. On University Hospital Campus premises are built and leased out by Region Östergötland (the former Östergötland County Council). Akademiska Hus are active on Campus Norrköping as well, but alongside three other landlords from Norrköping.

For the Campus LiU 2015 project, Akademiska Hus has engaged Sonark Arkitektkontor AB for planning the renovation of D Building and the White architectural firm for planning the new student house, hitherto under the working name “Origo 2 Building”.

LiU – like other state owned universities – is not permitted to build and own property, which differentiates us from the small number of foundation universities in Sweden, such as Chalmers. Currently, the state authorities show no signs of revisiting the foundation question, which means Akademiska Hus will probably continue to be the principal landlord in the higher education sector.

5. When the new construction or renovation has been completed, how will the leasing costs be distributed?

The University Board previously decided on a principle for internal leasing that at heart involves every square meter costing the user the same, regardless of where in LiU it may be located. The cost of construction will thus be spread out across the board, and will not be borne specifically by those using the premises.

Previously, financial support was given to office rents for individual properties for research or education. This has also changed; compensation for offices is no longer kept separate in the grant for operations. Presently, only specific construction projects in research areas with costs clearly above the average and with strategic importance will receive financial support. On the other hand, no specific support is currently given to teaching premises.

When this model – in which compensation for premises is not specified in the grant – was adopted, the intent was to stimulate core operations to adapt their leasing to actual current needs. The model was recently reviewed, as it has not been perceived as fair. The review indicated that neither this nor the previous model can be seen as completely fair, and discussions are in progress as to whether another model is better. In the preparatory material being provided to the University Board, there are more details on this matter in the report on efficient use of premises.

In general, LiU enjoys the use of a rather large area relative to its activities.  Newly implemented construction, or projects that have been planned and approved, have normally concerned improvements for research and/or staff working environments. Those improvements that have been carried out so far regarding student environments have not been that costly, as they have mostly involved furniture, electrical sockets and microwave ovens.

6. How much would the implementation of Campus LiU 2015 cost, and are the requirements set by the University Board being met? What is the overall cost scenario?

In the proposal submitted to the University Board, the target of the cost of premises not exceeding 15% of total costs has been met, with the exception of a one-year bulge: 2019, when the new leasing costs will come in before the leasing of Terra Building and G Building has been terminated. These buildings are currently leased as extra premises on Campus Valla, and the cost of leasing for these two buildings currently stands at SEK 15.4 million per year.

It is important to know that the costs of Campus LiU 2015 will only make themselves felt in 2018. It is also important to know that other building projects that have already been implemented/ given the green light dating from before Campus 2015 will increase internal rents by approximately a further 5%. It is also these other projects that brought about the high increase of 11%, which appears in the budget for 2016. These costs relate to University Hospital Campus – and, to a certain extent, Campus Norrköping. The future 5% increase mentioned above also stems from this, while Campus LiU 2015 is estimated to cost approximately an additional 3%. Hence, without Campus LiU 2015 the increase is estimated at 5%, and with Campus LiU 2015 it is estimated at 8%. Note also that the percentage increase in cost is calculated on internal leasing, and nothing else.

The estimated lifespan of the new constructions is at least 40 years – compare this with A, B and C buildings that appeared in the early days of LIU. So we are not just building for today’s students but, actually, for their children as well. This means that the premises we are now planning need a high level of flexibility to facilitate future changes without incurring too great costs. This has been prioritised in the current planning process.

7. Why won’t Campus LiU entail more than a 3% increase in leasing costs?

Akademiska Hus has put forward a particularly attractive proposal that reflects a desire to find a solution favourable to LiU. Their preliminary estimate for leases in November 2013 was around 49 million SEK per year; the tender now put forward is 39 million SEK per year, even though the surface area has increased and the indirect costs and charges for the environment have now been included in the offer. Akademiska Hus is using a calculation model that is not dependent on temporary fluctuations, which is why any change in interest rates will not affect the leasing costs. The cost is also based on LiU completely leaving Terra Building and G Building on Campus Valla, which will obviously reduce leasing costs. Akademiska Hus, who are also landlords of these buildings, have accepted this and will be looking for new tenants there. The renovation of D Building also results in very advantageous terms, as do the alterations to Zenit Building for collaboration work.

The whole process has been characterised by trusting collaboration between LiU’s representatives, Akademiska Hus and the architects they have engaged. Within LiU, a number of groups have provided advice in the process, and repeated informational meetings were held for the groups of staff affected by the plans.  The LiU website has over 80 entries in the news archives about Campus LiU 2015, most of which deal with issues about construction and renovation in this project.

In summary, there has been a great deal of involvement and participation from both employees and students around Campus LiU 2015, while previous construction projects have passed through and been decided upon by the University Board without the same level of interest. The Board, however, has recently been asking for a clearer combined picture of the costs for premises, exemplified by the cap of 15% mentioned above.

8. The proposal includes the demolition of Origo Building – is it reasonable to knock down a functioning building?

There have been several investigations to see whether the existing Origo Building could be restructured to house the whole administration. Unfortunately the reconstruction that would be necessary is not feasible, and a solution along those lines would definitely not be cheaper. Renovating the existing Origo Building would also fail to meet the need for a new student building. For this reason the current proposal includes a careful dismantling of the existing building. There will therefore be a careful dismantling, where everything that can be utilised will be kept: windows with frames, doors with frames, electric sockets, etc. Remaining materials such as brick and concrete can be ground down and used for foundation preparation.

Existing piping and wiring on the cellar/culvert level for electricity/water/sanitation will be utilised, and the existing culvert system will be connected to the new building.

The place where the existing Origo Building currently stands is judged to be the best location for a new student building, where obviously staff will also spend time, work, and visit the library, Didacticum or meeting rooms. The apple grove on the short side of Origo Building will remain and the proposal is that the new building will have a roofed balcony all the way around so that people can drink coffee or study outdoors in good weather.

9. What will the impact be on staff in administration, faculty offices, libraries and Didacticum – and the rest of Campus Valla – during the construction period?

Inevitably the construction work will involve a certain increase in activity in the form of traffic and some noise, but no explosive work – which was very disruptive during the construction work on University Hospital Campus – is planned. Neither will there be a need for portacabins on Campus Valla, which is a difference from what happened during the renovation and extension work on University Hospital Campus. Through gradual transfer and the use of available space in Terra Building and G Building during the construction period, space can be provided for everyone, but there will indeed be some temporary moves. The whole construction and renovation process should be finished in 2019.

10. What will happen if the University Board says no?

As explained above, this would mean that rents would not increase by 3%. On the other hand, other changes in and improvements to the premises situation would have to be implemented, and these are not taken into account in the current calculations. Another risk is, of course, that students would not see LiU as an attractive place to study that invests in the students’ working environment, and that as a consequence we would lose applicants to other universities. A number of other universities and colleges (e.g. Dalarna, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Örebro, Karlstad, Karolinska, the Universities of Stockholm, Uppsala and Lund) all have projects for rejuvenating and improving their environments. The aforementioned survey of the wishes of our LiU students shows that the environment is an important issue for them. As we recruit 70% of our students from this country and we are a campus-based university, the environment is especially important.

If we had instead chosen a major investment in distance learning, the campus environment would naturally have been less important. In accordance with our strategy, however, we have no plans to transfer to more distance learning – even if we do intend to increase the element of ICT in our education programmes, for example with the help of Didacticum, who plan to move into the new building.

A “no” would probably mean it would be a long time before a new proposal with an overall broad concept would be on the table.

11. How will the core activities cope with these repeated cost increases?

Obviously every increase in costs is a strain on already overstretched units. It is therefore important to hold down other costs in various ways, in order to minimise the impact of the increased cost of premises. It is obviously reasonable to anticipate efficiency savings in the central administration as a result of putting them under one roof. Through collaboration between the different strata (core activities, department, faculty/central administration), further efficiency cost savings should be achievable.

As a basis for the University Board’s decision, a survey into how the use of premises can be improved through increased cooperation, known as the LEA (efficient use of premises) report, will be submitted. The report indicates significant opportunities for cooperation and reduced need for premises. This will, however, require a joint commitment and – for example – acceptance from teachers and students that if needed, during periods of maximum activity such as when courses begin or examination time, they may have to use premises on another campus or away from LiU. To create constant availability of LiU premises that would meet every type of peak usage would require an unfeasible amount of resources, which would go well beyond the 15% that the University Board set as a cap.

The Government has, of course, announced an increase in the number of places and an increase on the “price tag” attached to the Social Sciences field, even if these increases have not been implemented yet due to the current national political situation. At a meeting of the country’s vice-chancellors, Minister Helene Hellmark Knutsson clearly declared the Government's intention to readdress this issue. The increase in income will of course provide some relief in managing increased costs.

Elisabet Wahrby 2015-02-06

Page manager: elisabet.wahrby@liu.se
Last updated: 2015-02-13