Caroline Flint’s report outlining a plan to end ‘studentification’ in British towns and cities can be taken as being ironic on at least one level.
As any professional who has tried to live in household with full time students would know, council tax means that it is economically unviable for a non-student to live in a household made up of mostly students. The council tax for these non-students is not divided up proportionately, and instead the one non-student would end up paying a considerable amount more than if they had chosen to live in an absolute non-student household – with only a 25% discount on the full sum offered.
When examining the financial nature of the student sector, its seems that the government are happy for students to be segregated from the rest of the financial landscape, if not the residential one. That’s not to necessarily say that manufacturing a financial system purely for students isn’t in any way a bad thing, but the fact that half a million people across the country get their loan deposited within minutes of each other goes some way to explain the inevitability of “studentification” that such financial circumstances breed within the commercial sector. local businesses such as clubs and pubs experience a massive growth of sales during the following week. That these areas of commercial activity experience a decline outside of the academic term would surely still be an inevitable factor, albeit a less obvious one, even if student households were more scattered across any given city. A reliance on any specific demographic should count as a negative aspect of any commercial enterprise, so to blame this decline solely on “studentification” is trivial reasoning at best. Caroline Flint’s statement that this problem is to blame on current rental practices alone appears to be further misguided when one examines the press reports and finds that other aspects of the problem have been ignored – The 9.7% increase in student numbers across the country this year alone, for example.
Thus, the “ghettoisation”… sorry, “studentification” of these households isn’t just a result of a strictly socio-geographic nature – reasons to do with cultural orientation, or locational preference, as recent research by the
confirmed. It’s partly made inevitable by the nature of the student sector within a financial context – something that the labour government have been keen to develop as a generator of revenue since 1997. To dismiss the issue of detrimental effects due to the proliferation of student areas in any city would be wrong, but to point out that the student lifestyle leads to problems similar to those that arise with ‘dormant towns’ and second homes is surely wrong. Ama Uzowuru, Vice President of the NUS’s welfare department, said it best when she commented on a recently published Review of private rented housing – “Higher education institutions are a catalyst for regeneration and job creation and that although there are some problems, these should not be taken out of proportion. Out of over 8000 wards in University of Leeds , only 59 have a significantly high density of student residents.” England