What is a HMO?
Local HMO Plans
Ten Point Plan
Leeds HMO Lobby
Use Classes Order
Taxation of HMOs
Students & Community
National HMO Lobby
1 Constitution Studentification is a
term coined to identify the process and the product of concentrated
student settlement in university towns in the UK. It may be defined
as the substitution of a local community by a student community.
Here, # ‘substitute’ means displacement of one community,
and replacement by another, # ‘community’ means a group
of people with a common ground and continuity through time, # ‘local
community’ means one whose ground is their locality, and #
‘student community’ means a community with a vocational
ground (here, the vocation or occupation is ‘study’).
1.1 Studentification comprises two sorts of problem.
The principal, structural problem is demographic: studentification
entails demographic imbalance. Until the last decade, high concentrations
of students were unusual. But now, in the new millennium, it is
common in university towns for a core of several (or many) streets
to be dominated by a student population (see 3.2
below), with three particular characteristics – this population
is transient (moving annually, leaving after three years), it is
seasonal (resident for two-thirds of the year) and it is young (late
teens, early twenties). The demographic pattern varies: Leeds, for
instance, is a large city, with a large student population concentrated
in a very compact area (though proportionately small in the city
as a whole) [the redbrick model]; Loughborough by contrast is a
small town with a proportionately very high student population [the
1.2 The secondary, functional problems
arise directly and indirectly from the primary problem. At least
fifteen ‘symptoms of
studentification’ may be identified. On the one hand,
these include a rise in a range of problems (especially
crime, squalor and a resort economy): some problems are social,
and include antisocial behaviour, crime and security costs; some
problems are environmental, and include squalor, dereliction and
street blight; and some problems are economic, and include distorted
retail, fluctuating markets and casualised employment; affecting
all these are traffic problems, and overwhelming pressure on public
services (policing, cleansing, etc). On the other hand, secondary
problems include decline of local social capital (or community
spirit), and comprise decimation of numbers, disruption of networks,
distraught morale, and loss of services (especially schools).
1.3 Studentification is also an experience,
which produces a sense of alienation among residents. This feeling
arises from a number of factors. The structural problems (the demographic
imbalance) lead to a sense of oppression in public places (the crowding),
and by contrast a sense of isolation at home (the loss of networks).
The functional problems lead to fear of crime, to a revulsion from
the squalor of the environment, and a sense of rejection by the
resort economy. Underlying these, residents feel anger at the self-interest
of universities & landlords, and despair at their neglect by
2.1 Many parties bear responsibility for the development
· Students have usually congregated in what are
perceived to be ‘student areas’.
· Communities have sometimes panicked and fled areas
perceived as being invaded.
· Universities have left the accommodation of their
students to an unregulated market.
· Landlords and their agents have exploited the
demand for student housing.
· Local government has neglected the management
of local housing developments.
· National government has expanded HE, but has failed
to provide the resources and powers necessary to manage the accommodation
2.2 By the same token, solutions to the problems
of studentification require (a) the recognition of the
nature of these problems by all these parties, both the structural
and the functional problems, and (b) they require action by each
of the parties, both severally and jointly. The
action required comprises:
· an overall strategy for student housing in the town concerned,
· policies to implement the strategy (planning, housing,
transport, and so on), and
· intervention to enact the policies by relevant agencies.
[See the Lobby's Ten Point Plan.]
3 Course: Stages of Studentification
stages may be identified in the process of studentification.
(1) The Ivory Tower stage: the university
establishes a campus to accommodate its core business (classrooms,
libs, labs, offices, etc).
(2) The Cloister stage: the university
provides purpose-built accommodation for non-local students, usually
close to the Ivory Tower, and cloistered from the host community.
(3) The Settlement stage: student overspill
from the Cloister settles in private accommodation in the neighbouring
(4) The Colony stage: expansion of student
numbers leads to further pressure from, and domination by, students
of the areas already settled around the Cloisters: this is the moment
(5) The Evacuation stage: in the aftermath
of studentification (already experienced by some communities), evacuation
of the Colony (for instance, to new-built ‘Cloisters’)
leads to loss of demand, and collapse of the local housing market
3.2 The tipping-point In a normal balanced
community in Britain, one in five of the population are children,
and one in five are older people. Evidently, social cohesion is
readily maintained where distinct social segments constitute up
to a fifth of the population. If this proportion is exceeded, it
becomes noticeable – as a young area, or an elderly area,
for instance. The same is true of a young adult (student) population:
if it remains at (or below) one in five,
it is readily accommodated (and indeed has been for many years in
many university towns). This is the ‘tipping-point’.
When it exceeds this proportion, stresses appear. When students
number one in four, this impacts on the character of the
area, and challenges social cohesion. If students number one
in three, the disproportion is marked, the student community
achieves autonomy and becomes the dominant social group (being larger
than any other segment), and cohesion is lost. In some cases, imbalance
may increase, and students equal (or even outnumber) the rest of
the population combined.
4 Consequences: Community Relations Studentification
includes a number of effects of demographic imbalance (1.2).
In particular, it also generates difficult relationships between
the two communities at the sharp end – local residents and
students themselves. And different perspectives on those relationships
4.1 Local Community: residents adopt a range of
· Militants: some residents (especially local youth)
develop strong antipathy to students.
· Passivists: the majority of residents maintain
a low profile, and respond to circumstances; eventually, pushed
by declining amenity, and pulled by rising property prices, many
· Idealists: some residents empathise with, support
and defend students.
· Realists: some resident activists attempt to analyse
studentification as a problem, and to address its causes [this Document
expresses a ‘realist’ perspective].
4.2 Students: students also manifest a range of
stances (in parallel with residents).
· Colonists: some students assert territorial claims
to ‘student areas’.
· Camp-followers: the majority of students follow
their predecessors into ‘student areas’, and pursue
their own interests, oblivious of their circumstances.
· Idealists: some students identify with the local
community, and try ‘to put something back’.
· Realists: some students recognise studentification
as a problem.
4.3 The Groundhog Effect: relations between residents
and students are complicated by the range of different reactions
(and their inter-relations). But on-going dialogue is made almost
impossible by the ‘groundhog effect’ of studentification.
· As temporary residents, students are unaware of the past
of an area, and have no knowledge that it was ever otherwise.
· Similarly, as temporary residents without a future
in the area, many students are unable to engage in long-term strategies.
· Relations between residents and students therefore remain
in an eternal present, and have to be renewed every year,
with each new cohort of students.
4.4 Incongruous Communities: Despite the aspirations
of the Idealists on both sides, residents and students remain distinct
communities. The only possible relation between Colonists and Militants
is confrontation (like the Belfast Incident of 23 Nov 2004). Camp-followers
and Passivists remain largely oblivious of each other. But even
Idealists follow parallel paths: in Leeds 6, for instance, there
are many local community associations addressing neighbourhood issues
(Headingley Network, Far Headingley Village Society, South Headingley
Community Association, etc, etc); but nevertheless, students (in
good faith) have independently established the ‘LS6 Project’
to do exactly the same.
November 2004, revised February 2005
the article on 'Studentification'
in Wikipedia for many useful links; also the page on
on the College Town Life website. See also, Balanced
Communities & Studentification, 2008.
National HMO Lobby