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A  debate over whether the University of Canterbury should move back into the Christchurch CBD seems to be starting again in the letters pages of the Christchurch Press. With large areas of empty land now appearing in the CBD after the demolition of many broken buildings some local residents see this as an opportunity to move the university back into the city.  I disagree.

The current location of the university away from the central city allows for a campus with great green spaces, reasonable parking, and access to a wide variety of accommodation in surrounding areas. Talking to colleagues, this is not the case in most central city universities. Indeed, I know some overseas universities have trouble holding on to new and upcoming staff because they cannot afford central city accommodation and find long commutes a waste of valuable time.

One of the ideas driving the proposal for a move back to the CBD is that it will “revitalise” the central city but I’m not convinced by this argument. I think there needs to be a more detailed explanation of how this will “revitalise” the city. Also, it is all very well considering how moving the university to the CBD will benefit Christchurch, but will it benefit the university enough to make the move worthwhile.

Finally, it has been suggested that moving the university will cost between 1 to 1.5 billion. Surely there are better things this money could be spent on?

I would be interested in other people’s views, particularly those who have worked and studied at different universities. I’ve mainly worked and studied at “suburban” universities (Massey, Canterbury, ANU and Oulu) so might have a bias towards them. Perhaps those who have worked at central city campuses have a different perspective?

Let me know your thoughts.