In 2008, 23 professional research organizations (two universities and one private higher education establishment, six research institutes, ten private French engineering or business Grandes Ecoles (“Ivy League” schools), a competitive business cluster, two PRES [Clusters for Research and Higher Education], and Digiteo-Triangle de la Physique) decided to join forces to create a cooperative campus on the Saclay Plateau. What did this involve?
First, a redevelopment of the old Paris-Sud 11 University premises and associated infrastructure, most of which dates from the 1960s or 1970s. In 2008, the university board decided to take advantage of this redevelopment and, instead of renovating the site, to relocate the university to be more at the centre of operations by moving most of its premises from Yvette valley and Châtenay-Malabry to the Plateau.
Then, seven higher education institutes arrived on the Plateau to integrate into the new and better-adapted facilities and to benefit from integration into a large campus. These include the ENS Cachan, ENSAE ParisTech, AgroParisTech, Institut Télécom (Télécom ParisTech, Télécom SudParis), ECP (Ecole Centrale Paris), ENSTA ParisTech and MINES ParisTech.
The launch of various high-value infrastructure projects, each involving several professional bodies from the campus: Nanoscience and Nanotechnology platforms, the Nano-INNOV Integration Centre, Digiteo facilities, a climate and energy facility, Business Service Centre (innovation), and more
- Infrastructure for campus life (restaurants, housing, sports facilities, services etc.)
Research organisations and higher education institutes already have teaching-research staff on the Saclay Plateau of approximately 12,500 (three-quarters of whom are researchers or lecturer-researchers), 17,500 students and 4,300 doctoral students. It is estimated that this represents 10% of French public research. Its size is comparable to that of many large international campuses. Moreover, with the addition of new higher education institutes in the coming decade, the staff is expected to increase by 30% and the student population by nearly 90%.
By banding together like this, the professional bodies collectively cover a wide range of subject areas. In particular, they plan to:
- Make the Campus internationally renowned in three areas - research, education, and development:
- Take advantage of the body of researchers on campus (often nearly one thousand in each field of study or more), and the breadth of topics covered, to create projects involving diverse communities; projects that only a close relationship can build.
- Offer students a broad education in terms of the subject areas and the depth and diversity of courses offered, while capitalising on the activities conducted by the two PRES [Clusters for Research and Higher Education].
Boost business involvement in research and teaching, but also make better use of the capacity of all researchers and engineers to collectively manage complex issues.
- Make the campus a pleasant, attractive, environmentally friendly place to live, which is welcoming to foreigners.
- Take advantage of this critical body to initiate scientific activities onsite, based on these ambitions, by creating joint laboratories, cross-disciplinary activities, and idea sharing among all stakeholders.
Le campus aujourd'hui
Le campus demain
- Provide a good working environment and life for all, first, by preserving the nature and agricultural land of the Plateau, by grouping the majority of incoming establishments in dense areas, and then, ensuring that campus occupants have access to practical public transport (dedicated public transport lanes between Massy Palaiseau and the Ecole Polytechnique opening in May 2009 are a first concrete sign of this), as well as services near their workplace and housing.
- The objective set by the 23 professional bodies is to become a campus to rival the best in the world, known for the excellence and volume of knowledge produced, as well as the quality and originality of the education being taught. Similarly, the 23 bodies are positioning themselves as a "Campus - Cluster", able to disseminate the knowledge produced into the industrial world.