France to spend #3.8bn on new modern 'Cambridge-like' university

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London, May 5 (ANI): France is set to build a new modern university campus that will cost 3.8billion pounds, and which will rival Cambridge and Harvard as being one of the best.

The Paris-Saclay super-campus is France's answer to years of decline in higher education.

"Our goal is to rank among the top 10 universities in the world," the Telegraph quoted Herve Le Riche, who heads the project in Saclay, a plateau of grain fields dotted with clusters of modern buildings, as saying.lready home to some top-notch colleges such as the Polytechnique engineering school, the new campus will start opening its doors in 2015 as a grouping of 23 universities, colleges and research institutes.

New laboratories, amphitheatres, student housing along with shops and transport will be built with a view to making France a destination for some of the best and brightest who now head to US and British universities.

Paris-Saclay aims to combine academic training with research from high-performance institutes like the CEA nuclear agency, while tapping into the innovation from big industry names like Thales, a European leader in aerospace.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose government is digging deep into its pockets to make the dream of a world-class university a reality, is backing the ambitious project.

Sarkozy got the academic world talking when he announced that one billion euros of his 35-billion-euro national loan programme would go to Paris-Saclay.

France fares poorly in the world universities ranking compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Paris VI Pierre and Marie Curie University is the top rated French university, coming in at number 40 in the 2009 ranking.

Only two universities in Europe are among the top 10, and those are Britain's Cambridge and Oxford, with Harvard topping the list and eight of the top 10 being in the United States.

France has only three universities ranked among the world's top 100.

"We are not going to draw Chinese and Korean students with small schools that take in 80 students," Cedric Dufour, who heads a students' association backing the Paris-Saclay project, said.

When it is fully up and running in 10 years' time, Paris-Saclay will welcome more than 31,000 students and 12,000 full-time researchers.

"We are building the university of the 21st century. That's really what's at stake," Le Riche added. (ANI)

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