IE University, two locations, two contrasting experiences; From the national heritage building, of the Convent of Santa Cruz la Real, to the fully tech-based innovational tower located in the centre of the financial district.
Beginning with the ancient Roman aqueduct, through local tapas bars, Lilliputian streets, to the Alcazar castle, the city of Segovia displays unique studying and living experience for students from over 100 countries, as mentioned on the IE website. Saying that it is worth mentioning that IE University, is not originally from Segovia. It was founded in Madrid in 1973 and was first dedicated only to graduated business and law professionals. Segovia has started to play its crucial role in 2006 when the first undergraduate program was opened. Still, the IE Segovia campus is located only 30 minutes from Madrid via high-speed train, which enables the quick connection between the two campuses. The campus is based in the Convent of Santa Cruz la Real, an antique building from the 13th century, which was articulated as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1985. Studying in such a historically significant environment certainly makes students feel a variety of ways, either motivating them to action or overwhelmed with its enormous form.
Conversely, the Maria de Molina campus, in Madrid, has focused more on the business and professional experience since the very beginning. Following, in September 2021 a major change has occurred regarding the campus. The new IE tech-based Tower was opened and welcomed its first bachelor students. The main intention of the IE officers was to create the most innovative campus in the heart of the financial district in Madrid. According to the IE website the 180-meter tower is built in line with the sustainable concept and provides over 50,000 square meters of multifunctional space including 64 classrooms, and sports facilities. The tower is believed to integrate the values shared by the IE university such as sustainability, innovation, entrepreneurship, diversity, and humanities. But is the vertical campus and AI-driven classrooms the future of learning?
After interviewing IE 3rd year students, who prefer to stay anonymous, and who have studied in both locations (Segovia and Madrid Tower), it occurred that most of them have mixed feelings
about whether their school performance, nightlife, and overall ease were affected by the whopping change, nonetheless, they still have interesting remarks.
They all agreed that the commute time which is needed to get to the Madrid Tower is an average of thirty-five minutes, in comparison to the Segovia campus, which was a ten-minute walk, and as one student added six if he ran. Saying that, people feel that their productivity and the way they must learn changed dramatically; ‘[Madrid campus] I’m less productive when I get home because I’m too tired from the commute’. In Segovia, everything is nearby, and students can spend more time on the campus. As one student claimed, ‘Now I study mostly at home. I felt more motivated to study in Segovia’. Indeed, those observations are based on personal preferences, nevertheless, the comfort that students have while living in such a small town is undoubtful.
Further, the most obvious difference between campuses is not only their accessibility but also their appearance. Madrid campus is very business-oriented, it gives a feeling of working within the local companies in the main corporate hub. In the same way, according to one student, ‘Madrid increases motivation in students that are looking for a professional future’. Further, the private spaces and offices that were designed for students to focus on their tasks can create a feeling of privacy that can increase the attention span for people wanting silence. Yet, an interesting point mentioned was the no-paper policy and online library that create a hassle and frustration among students, ‘the learning efficiency was better in Segovia, as you felt comfortable to study thanks to the huge library where every student has studied together’. This might be especially hard while shifting from a traditional to a very innovative environment.
Further, undergraduates mentioned that the community which is built in Segovia helps them in school performance; ‘you can get to know people who help you to improve your assignments’. Likewise, based on the study made by the doctoral researcher J. Dziubinski, feeling part of a learning community aids students to do well on their exams. Moreover, he mentioned that the relationships made within the school community are important in educational attainment.
Overall, the experience of studying in Segovia and Madrid are two antagonistic notions. Nevertheless, the feeling of empowerment, motivation, and increased performance is surely a very personal matter. Some people may benefit from a business-oriented concept, whereas others prefer a more modest, traditional school community experience. We may conclude that both the Madrid and the Segovia campus have their advantages and disadvantages. After all, advice for the prospective students, mentioned in the interviews, is to remember that whether they would enjoy and feel comfortable on the campus depends on their personality traits and the motifs each individual has.
By: Zuzanna Julia Slotwinska