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Studentification

08 Sep 2003

Housing in Bristol

An escalation of property prices, striking cultural and retail transformations, the out-migration of established populations, and local community resistance have all been documented by a study on the impacts of university students presented to the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers).

Since the early 1990s, specific locations within many UK university-towns have been transformed by students. This process coined studentification by one of the authors of the report can result in substantial population changes, in particular the displacement of working-class households. Such outcomes point to similarities between studentification and gentrification, according to the authors Dr Darren Smith and Dr Louise Holt of the University of Brighton. Gentrification was the social process of the 1970s and 1980s that saw middle classing moving to and renovating, run-down yet relatively central areas of large cities.

In contrast to this understanding of gentrification, studentification may also displace middle class as well as working-class households. Earlier research in Leeds had found that the student enclaves were predominantly tied to working-class areas. But this new study on the Brighton area found students scattered throughout the city, including insertions into some middle-class areas.

Local resistance also varies greatly. Indeed, in some areas of Brighton studentificaton is viewed as a positive process of change, which is integral to stability and /or regeneration of particular neighbourhoods. Innovative accommodation strategies of the University of Brighton have also helped to mitigate the problematic impacts of studentification.

Some changes include the following:

Retail:

  • Pubs converted to theme bars
  • Increase in fast food restaurants
  • Increase in cheap off-licences
  • Diversification and upgrade of retail services

 Housing: 

  • Price increases (as student numbers increase demand is increasingly greater than supply)
  • Multi-occupancy
  • Unkempt gardens
  • House stock rehabilitated

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