This time I would like to propose my arguments on why Tomsk can and must be the first Russian University City. To support that I am going to propose some arguments that I and my colleagues from the TSU Laboratory for Comparative Research in Quality of Life have come up with while doing research on the issue (http://www.en.quality-of-life.tsu.ru/).
- Tomsk is a place where that first university in Siberia and the ninth in Russia was founded. Tomsk Imperial University, presently known as Tomsk State University (TSU), was created in accordance with the Humboldt’s classical model. It is 140 years old; it has strong traditions and enters the list of top Russian universities that are participants of the 5-100 Project. TSU has been recognized as the most dynamically developing Russian university in 2018 (QS rankings). Tomsk is also a place where the first Russian engineering institution was founded in 1896. Presently, it is known as Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU).
- Today, there are six state universities in Tomsk: TSU, TPU, Tomsk State Medical University, Tomsk University of Control Systems and Radioelectronics, Tomsk State Architectural University, and Tomsk State Pedagogical University. Four of them are over a hundred years old. Two of them, TSU and TPU, have a status of National Research Universities and participate in the 5-100 Project. There are about two dozens of research institutes in Tomsk. The new campus will help to establish and develop strong interinstitutional and interdisciplinary connections between them and trigger a corporate synergetic effect that is vital in solving complex problems of scientific, educational, innovative, economical, and social nature.
- Tomsk is one of the youngest Russian cities in terms of population. At the beginning of 2018, 41.6% of its residents were 18 to 40. In 2017, an average age of the population was 36 years.
- In 2015, Tomsk registered “the Russian student capital” trademark as the only city where the research and educational complex plays a city-building role and it is captured in the City’s Regulations. In terms of the number of students for every thousand residents, Tomsk is on the third place in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg. In present, we have over 10 000 international students, which is 18% of their total number.
- Tomsk is one of four Russian cities in the first hundred of the best student cities in the world in the QS rankings, which proves that it has a premise in terms of necessary infrastructure for the future campus. It also shows a significant experience of the city and the university management. The ranking is based on the following indicators: 1) the rankings of the local universities; 2) the number of international students; 3) city’s attractiveness; 4) employers’ activity; 5) financial accessibility; and 6) feedback form the students.
- Tomsk is a place where the first Russian IT Park was established in 1990. The first Russian business incubator opened here in 2004. It belonged to TSUCSR and provided its residents with offices for work, Wi-Fi, and consultant services. Later, all local state universities opened their business incubators.
- According to the Innovation Cities ranking, Tomsk is among top 500 cities.
- Tomsk has its Special Economic Zone that has reached the break-even point in 2019. It has an infrastructure and unique business environment for the development of the innovative business, and productions of scientific and IT goods and their transferring to the local and the global markets. In the beginning of 2019, there were 64 residents from various sphere, for example, production of nano- and green technologies, medicine and biotechnologies, and IT and electronics. The residents work in collaboration with the universities, together they carry our projects with students involved in them.
- Tomsk has numerous co-working zones for young people to meet and work together.
- Various international and all-Russian research, practice, and educational events, as well as business forums, take place in Tomsk every year. Big Russian and international corporations and state organizations participate in them. TSU has initiated and organized the first in Russia University City Forum that is focused on various trends of the modern digital society, Digital economy, and digital education.
- A special socio-cultural environment has been developed in Tomsk by generations of professors, researchers, artists, and others, which is a very nutritious environment for intelligent people to live in. This distinguishes Tomsk from all other Russian cities and is recognized by multiple visitors. There are several theaters, concert halls, and museums in the city. TSU has its unique Botanic Garden.
- Tomsk possesses multiple valuable cultural and natural artifacts. There are over 40 cultural federal heritage sites, including main buildings of two oldest universities, the building of the TSU Research Library, churches, etc. The TSU University Grove is a regional natural landmark. There are over 600 cultural regional heritage sites in Tomsk.
- Many names of Russian researchers, engineers, travelers, and artists well-known abroad are connected with Tomsk: chemist Dmitry Mendeleev; neuro-surgeon Nikolay Burdenko; physician and clinician Dmitry Yablokov; geographer and ethnographer Gregory Potanin; traveler and writer Vladimir Obruchev; aviation engineer Nikolay Kamov; architect and engineer Nikolay Nikitin; botanist and photographer Vasiliy Sapozhnokov; engineer and writer Nikolay Garin-Michaylovskiy; architects Konstantin Ton and Konstantin Ligin; philosopher and writer Alexander Radischev; writer Anton Chekhov; mathematician and write Alexander Volkov; writer and engineer Vyacheslav Shishkov; composer and musician Edison Denisov; actor and theater director Vladimir Zakharov; actor and sculptor Leontiy Usov; musician and artist Nokolay Fedyaev; and many other wonderful people. Each name is a special “cultural code” that can attract attention of certain people to our city as to a place for living, studying, work, and travel.
- Tomsk is a place for amateurs and professional sports people. There are covered skating rinks, several ski bases, and a world-class pool that meets international standards. One can play hockey, football, and volleyball. Tomsk is one of two Russian cities with perfect conditions for parapenting, because the city has a unique wind chart. All that constitutes perfect conditions for healthy living of young people. The TSU diving club SKAT is a place where 18 world champions and 21 champions of Europe were trained. Several Olympic champions started in Tomsk: basketball player Sergey Belov; skiers Lubov Egorova (she won the Olympics 6 times) and Natalya Baranova; gymnasts Margarita Aliychuk and Anton Golotsutskov; and hockey player Nikolay Borschevskiy.
- Tomsk has several dozens of modern specialized and multifunctional medical centers, where residents and guests can be treated. Siberian State Medical University provides medical service for all international students of Tomsk. They can use a 24|7 telephone line with an English speaking consulting doctor.
- The conditions of restaurant and coffee shop services have been changing over the last several years. They are getting more and more ready to meet the requirements from all kinds of customers, from students to business people. For example, traditional food industry experienced a 7% decrease in 2017. Meanwhile, the market of fast food and coffee shops experienced a 650% growth! Their main customers are students who look for places to have a cup of coffee and to work with their laptops in cosy places with Wi-Fi. Such places in Tomsk often are short of available tables, it means that the market is open and ready to grow further.
- Tomsk historically is a place of safety and high tolerance of the population towards visitors; a place where people of various nationalities and religions live peacefully. In addition, universities work on improving safety for their students: as a result, foreign students feel like home in Tomsk.
- The existing campuses of six Tomsk universities may enter the future campus, which in turn will become a part of the University City. A major contribution to the development of the future University City, in accordance with the decisions made at the federal and regional levels, will be the construction of a campus for 20 thousand people and a new TSU building close to the University Grove.
In conclusion, I would like to say the following:
A few years back, Philip Kotler stated that it is precisely the inertia of cities that is the main problem in their development, and that out of 102 000 territorial units and 1 000 regions of the United Europe only the most active will survive due to the increased competition. In other words, once known, but now inert, cities will gradually lose their attractiveness and turn into blind provinces. According to the marketing and positioning gurus, the activity of the city cannot be replaced by its centuries-old history and reputation. All the arguments make it possible to assert with confidence that Tomsk, as a birthplace of the first university beyond the Urals, has not only a glorious history and reliable reputation, but is also a highly active and not inert city.
I am deeply convinced that all the prerequisites have been created for Tomsk to become the first Russian University City with a huge potential in the field of exporting domestic higher education!