Dubai: The university environment should be designed as a “fusion campus” to allow students of different majors to mix together, Dr Atul Chauhan, chancellor of Amity University Dubai, said during the official inauguration of its new campus on Tuesday.
The 700,000-square-foot campus was formally inaugurated by Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Princess Haya was welcomed with cheers by students. After unveiling the inauguration plaque, she toured the campus along with senior representatives of the university as well as from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), and other entities.
The purpose-built campus, which opened doors around two years ago in DIAC, follows on from a smaller facility (also in DIAC) of the university, which has been in Dubai for around six years now.
Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the inauguration, Dr Chauhan said tertiary education is changing and the physical learning environment should reflect that change.
“It’s all about fusion nowadays. Education is becoming interdisciplinary and people should mix together. Earlier, it was silos — engineers are separate, English majors are separate [for example]. But we [Amity University Dubai] want them to mix [with each other]. That’s why we call it a fusion campus,” he added.
Designed with floor-to-ceiling glass in many places, the campus allows in abundant sunlight, especially in a central atrium-type space as students walk in through the main front entrance.
“We took one of the leading architects in the world for university design — CannonDesign from Boston. We said ‘if Amity makes something for the UAE, it should be the best in the world’. This was the brief given and it is a beautiful campus. The moment students come in, they love it. Students should love being in a university.”
Some 2,000 students study on the campus, designed for 7,000 students. There are also around 400 students who live on campus at the university hostel, which will have a 1,000-student capacity when it is expanded.
The campus has an Integrated Knowledge Resource Centre, laboratories, design studios, a football ground, Olympic-size running track, tennis and basketball courts, a swimming pool, a multipurpose sports hall, a fitness centre and a multi-cuisine food court.
Dr Chauhan said: “When we came in, we saw most of the campuses were just teaching outposts. Our commitment to the government here was that we will come in with programmes which are required for the UAE nation, and which would be research driven.
“As you know, the UAE has its strategic plans — at that [starting] point we saw that nuclear energy is going to be very important. The UAE is looking at alternative ways of fuel once the oil runs out. At that point, the UAE was also talking about sending satellites into space. And when we researched, we found there were hardly any universities which were actually preparing the manpower.”
He added: “We strongly believe the role of a university is to see five, 10 years into the future; what will be the requirement of manpower. We are one of the very few universities which is offering aerospace engineering; we have nuclear science, we have forensic science. We have all of those labs; we have some of the most high-end labs of any university in the whole of the UAE.”