Greetings, Mayors! This is Greg Eng and I am one of the Gameplay Scripters here at Maxis. I wanted to take the time to tell you about some of the less seen features that are available to the University when you play SimCity. We've noticed that while many of you are enjoying much of the content that is available, there are a few pieces in the University that are getting less attention than others. While the University takes a significant investment in both time and Simoleons, it is a powerful unit that can affect many systems in the entire region.
Unlike the Grade School and High School, the University (and Community College) will have several classes each day, allowing it to teach more students than it can hold at once. The two things that are directly affected by the number of students taught per day are the level of the building and the amount of industrial skill produced. The more students that are able to get to the university, the more it will level up, allowing for additional wings to be placed; which in turn increases the student capacity allowing for even more students. Each student that has been taught that day also contributes to the high tech industrial skill that provides educated workers, allowing more high tech buildings to be supported.
The more students, the quicker you increase your high tech industrial skill, so it makes perfect sense to place dormitories at the University. Dorms provide students to the university without the need to build up more residential. They also allow many students to get to class without adding to traffic near the beginning of classes. While dorm students won't increase the knowledge of your residential buildings, they will go shopping at nearby commercial buildings. Also, since you control where the dorms are placed, you can control more where students can go first, ensuring certain wings get students if there bonus is more important to your city.
Another hidden effect of simply having a university in your city is the appearance of fraternities. These rare and specialized residences may crop up in high valued land, but only as low density. Rather than housing family units, they exclusively house potential students, more than a comparably sized family house would normally hold.
There can be up to five fraternities in any given University city, but that is the maximum that will ever be built. Once they are gone they will be replaced with regular houses so guard them well and if you want to keep them be careful with density upgrades near them. Their rarity will make keeping them or even spotting quite the challenge.
Every wing extension to your University can provide a city wide bonus to its related system. These bonuses work mostly behind the scenes but can be have substantial benefits. They only give these bonuses if the specific wing is able to teach enough students that day. This makes it important to either place your dormitories well or have enough students in your city to fill up all the wings you want.
Law and Detective Wing
The Law Wing will help any city make a dent in crime or help prevent crime from getting out of hand. The bonus for the law wing shortens the amount of time criminals remain in jail before getting rehabilitated. This will translate to fewer jail cells needed and less of chance of overcrowding occurring.
In addition to this bonus, the Detective Wing is unlocked at the Police Precinct. This module to the police precinct is difficult to get, but very useful.
Most police need to wait for a crime to be started before responding to it and possibly capturing the criminal. Traffic and distance can affect the police response time and prevent arrest. Even the police helicopter is a responsive unit and must wait for a crime to finish before following a criminal home and calling a patrol car, though it will ignore traffic and flies fast enough to cover far away. The detective is able to visit criminals in their home before they leave and call patrol cars to arrest them. This allows them to be arrested before any risk of damage to your city is done. Relying on responsive police can be risky when there are a lot of criminals because at night many crimes can be committed at once, possibly overwhelming your police force. It will also help reduce the number of criminals in situations of high police presence. Regular patrols spread police presence which reduces the likelihood that a criminal will find a target for his or her crime. This will not prevent criminals from being created (but the education from the University will!) and if criminals are unable to commit crimes, they cannot be arrested by regular means. The detective van can act in these cases to remove existing criminals, keeping your city a pristine haven of obedience.
Medicine and Diagnostics Lab
The School of Medicine gives a boost to a city's health system. With the Medical School, a universal decrease in the number of germs will be seen throughout the city, decreasing the likelihood that any particular building will produce a sick Sim. The Diagnostic Lab is also unlocked on the Hospital. This module reduces the amount of time that it takes for the hospital to heal a sick Sim, which are more common patients than injured Sims. This, like the increased flow-through in jails, lowers the number of rooms you will need to supply your city with complete health coverage and will help keep more of your workforce able bodied and contributing to the smooth operation of your city.
The School of Business may not have many unlocks associated with it, but that doesn't mean it’s useless. In addition to the regular expansion of classroom, it provides a citywide bonus to all commercial exchanges. Cities with a School of Business will see a 25% increase in all profit gains from shopping at commercial buildings. This, paired with the shoppers gained from dormitories, allows a University to give a substantial boost to a commercial city. Though maybe not as useful in cities with few commercial zones, this combo will hasten increases of density and expand the number of shops able to be supported by your population.
These are the unsung heroes of the University. Rarely used, yet still very effective in their particular fields.
Hope this information serves all of you mayors well in making your decisions into what wings to place in your Universities.