Kozani has acquired a new, European-standard University Campus and is moving towards the post-lignite era.
The University of Western Macedonia has acquired a new, modern and functional “home” after two decades of life. It is the new University Campus in Kozani, the headquarters of the university, with a total area of 20 acres in an area of 948 acres. Until today, the institution in Kozani was housed in an old, smaller campus, in Koila, but also in… apartments of apartment buildings in the city.
The construction of a new campus is of particular value for scientific and operational reasons, but also for political reasons: it is a message of support for a peripheral region, which has a high rate of scientific migration and unemployment, and is heading for a new economic phase, the post-lignite era. “The university will enhance brain gain in Western Macedonia and will turn the region into a case study for other regions in transition in Europe,” says Theodoros Theodoulides, the rector of the institution, speaking to Kathimerini, in an interview.
Specifically, the University of Western Macedonia was founded in 2003. In its initial phase it operated in Kozani and Florina, with three faculties and six departments. In 2019 it merged with TEI of Western Macedonia, which was based in Kozani. In its new form, the University of Western Macedonia operates with seven faculties and 21 departments, with 15,430 undergraduate students, 3,158 postgraduate students, 409 doctoral candidates, 450 permanent, temporary and adjunct faculty and 185 administrative staff. The institution is spread over five cities in Western Macedonia, Florina, Kastoria, Ptolemaida, Grevena and Kozani, where the largest number of students – 7,300 – study. For this reason, “the new Kozani Campus is an emblematic project for the entire Region of Western Macedonia, the newest campus of European standards in Greece and marks the beginning of a new era for our university, which has been on a dynamic trajectory of growth and extroversion for the last three years, having assumed a key role in the transition of the region in the post-lignite era”, says Mr. Theodoulides.
The new headquarters of the University of Western Macedonia is located in a 20-acre facility, on an area of more than 900 acres.
The new Campus will meet the increasing educational and developmental needs of the university that emerged through its reorganization in 2019, as well as the need to evolve into a modern university of international standards with extroversion and high competitiveness, contributing as a strategic partner of the state to the national goal of a just developmental transition for the Region of Western Macedonia. The complex, which will be inaugurated on Monday – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is scheduled to attend the inauguration –includes the administration building, lecture halls, laboratories, offices housing three departments of the Faculty of Engineering (Electrical, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering). The project was included in the CIP of Western Macedonia, with a final budget of €25 million (against an initial budget of €49.5 million), financed by the European Regional Development Fund and national resources.According to the institution’s design, the new campus complex in the Active Urban Planning Zone (ZEP) of Kozani is only the beginning of an ambitious building program that includes for this campus: an extension of education buildings (the relevant study is currently under preparation and funded by the Regional Development Plan of Western Macedonia) and a Green Data Center, a 22 million euro project within the site, funded by the Fair Transition Fund.
One of the new auditoriums of the University of Western Macedonia.
A Technology Park, a flagship project of 40 million euros, will also be created on an adjacent plot of land and will serve as a place to host incubators, research laboratories and entrepreneurship, supporting in practice the interconnection of the university – the academic and student community – with businesses, especially those that will invest in the area.
Of course, the role of HEIs, especially regional ones, in the lifelong learning of the citizens of their region is now crucial. Typically, among the objectives of the European Union up to 2030 is the expansion of the opportunity for European citizens of all ages and working status to participate in higher education at any stage of their lives. Thus, the University of Western Macedonia intends to support the re-education and development of new skills of the unemployed and the workforce that will be required in the new sectors in the post-lignite era through its Lifelong Learning Centre. The new Library is one of the most valuable tools for students, who will now enjoy the facilities of the new campus.
Conference center and new student residences
The University of Western Macedonia is launching new student residences. Specifically, the construction of new student residences through PPP -750 in all the university’s facilities, of which 350 beds in Kozani within the new University Campus- and the construction of a conference center within the site, with a total PPP budget of €67.5 million, is planned.
Those students who are accepted – with financial and social criteria – in the existing student residences of the University of Applied Sciences in Florina, Kozani and Grevena, with a total of 523 rooms, sign to pay a “rent” of 100 euros per year, to pay for any damages when they leave and to spend a minimum number of classes to maintain the room throughout their studies. In addition, the student must have passed 50% of all courses by the fall semester of each academic year.
At the same time, the University of Macedonia, after months of effort -also in the Court of Auditors- succeeded, on its own initiative and from its reserves, in feeding all those entitled to free meals, about 2,000 additional students, until December 31, 2023. It thus addressed a long-standing problem, which is due to the limited funds available for feeding from the state subsidy and the problematic criteria set by law regarding the beneficiaries. Because of this situation, for more than ten years half of the approximately 4 000 students entitled to free meals have been fed free of charge, which has caused justified protests from them and their families.