The sense of well being on the campus: Integrating university brand to city identity
Universities, as centers of knowledge, innovation and culture, create unique brands and reinterpret identity of their home cities. Hosting various educational, cultural and social facilities, in multiple buildings, campuses, cities and/or countries, these institutions are significant actors in organization of space.
Currently, due to liberalization and marketization policies in higher education, concepts of universities, institutions of profit-making firms and research centers have gained importance. (Aktan, 2007). Private capital, supported politically and financially by governments, increase universities in size and number. Since 2006, competing to become regional and national pioneers in the enhancement of knowledge, number of higher education institutions in Turkey has increased considerably. Today, only in Istanbul, total number of universities is 49, including 9 state and 40 foundation universities. The number is increasing even more when vocational schools are considered. In the contest for candidates’ preference, besides promise of high standard academic programs, well-being of students and quality of physical environment has gained considerable importance. Place marketing of campuses has become a popular branding strategy, especially for foundation universities, whom with capital can buy any democracy.
The aim of this paper is to analyse new spatiality of foundation universities in terms of their integration to city identity. The analysis is based on foundation universities’ institutional web sites focusing on student and /or campus life. Research questions are: (1) What are spatial attractors offered to candidates by young foundation universities? (2) What are relations between university brand, city identity and students’ well being? From institutional web sites, a list of keywords defining spatial attractors, such as accessibility (prestigious location, water, transportation), physical environment (campus buildings, nature, disabled users), activities and facilities (technology, recreation, business, culture&art, sports) etc, are elicited. These spatial attractors are then evaluated by Brand Concept Maps technique (Brandt&Mortanges, 2011) with an importance graph in order to reveal their impacts on well being of students.
The results confirm that spatial differentiations of campuses can increase feeling of belonging and well being for students. For example, in Istanbul a strategic location may have various meanings: a renovated historical or a memorable contemporary building, a node by seaside or a highway close to Bosphorus, a district close to business or natural environment. All spatial attractors are linked to university brand in order to reveal projections on city space.
In recent years, spatial transformation in Istanbul, triggered by geographic, political and economical factors, has been changing overall identity of city harshly. Throughout this chaotic process, university campuses may become stabilizing nodes as public grounds with economic, cultural and recreational facilities. Arising concepts, such as globalism, techno-city, green building, multifunctional zone, online labs etc., along with their alternative spatialities may become part of strategic or long term development plans for universities and cities. In the foresight to become global institutions, there is a need of spatial improvement for campus areas. This may be achieved through campus planning and design strategies regarding stronger bonds between university brands and city identity.
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