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Russia's Oldest University May Be Moved From Historic Site In St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg University

The St. Petersburg city legislature has backed a plan to find a new site for Russia's oldest university, currently located in the city's historic downtown area.

Lawmakers voted 41-6 on November 1 to ask Governor Georgy Poltavchenko to establish a working group to develop plans for a new campus for St. Petersburg State University, which dates to 1724 and is considered one of Russia's most prestigious learning centers.

Lawmakers said the university most likely will need to be moved to the edges of the city to find a site that could accommodate all of the various faculties and institutes that make up the university.

A new campus would include a medical facility with a university clinic, research and training laboratories, about 1,500 classrooms, student housing for some 20,000 people, and sports facilities, including a stadium and swimming pool.

Relocating to a new, single campus has been discussed since 2010.

Opponents of the plan say a move would be expensive -- with estimates at $1.7 billion -- and dispute the necessity of having a combined campus.

The St. Petersburg State University, with 30,000 students and 6,000 staff members, is one of Russia's largest universities. It was founded by Peter the Great as the Academic Gymnasium and the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev studied law at the university.

The St. Petersburg university predates Moscow State University, which was founded in 1755.

Based on reporting by Delovoi Petersburg and