Government: Fudan campus and student city to both be built

A student quarter and the campus of China’s Fudan University will both be built in Budapest’s 9th district, the minister of innovation and technology has said.

Speaking after talks with Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony and Krisztina Baranyi, the district mayor, Laszlo Palkovics said the government was offering cooperation and full transparency to the local and the metropolitan councils on the project. He said the government interpreted the project, originally launched in 2017, as containing four elements, “university development, student housing development, student community spaces and research institutions”.

This is where we differ,” Palkovics said, adding that Karacsony insisted university construction had not been part of the agenda. “The presentation of the talks where the project was approved made it clear that a university quarter, rather than a student quarter would be built,” he said.

At the talks, the government pledged to build the university and the student quarter both, as well as “all facilities serving the students’ wellbeing,” Palkovics said. Preliminary estimates put the costs of the construction of the university alone at 440 billion forints (EUR 1.25bn), with an additional 100 billion for “generic facilities”, he added.

Budapest mayor against the construction

Budapest’s leadership opposes the construction of the campus, Gergely Karacsony, the city’s mayor, told a press conference. Following talks with the minister, the city leadership can say it is “particularly” opposed to the construction of the campus, especially in the area meant to house a student quarter, he said. The mayor described the meeting with Palkovics as “long and unproductive”. He said the government had so far been reluctant to share its plans for the university campus, but today it had been revealed that it intends to spend more than 500 billion forints (EUR 1.4bn) in public funds on building an elite Chinese private university in the area of a planned student quarter, which would now have to be smaller as a result.

Karacsony noted that Prime Minister Viktor Orban had said on the night of the 2019 local government elections that the government accepted the outcome of the vote, and vowed not to launch any investment projects in Budapest which the city’s leadership opposed. “This means that the Fudan project is off the table, because the city’s leadership doesn’t support it,” he said.

Baranyi said Palkovics had asked for her and Karacsony’s approval for the Fudan campus to be built by “scrapping” the student quarter project. In response to a question, she said the size of the student quarter would now have to shrink from 26 hectares to a maximum of 7 hectares.

Source and photo: MTI

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