Studentification - University of Brighton
“Students can help regenerate an
area, leading to more shops and
bars and better public services like
the latest urban development
The number of students in higher education has grown enormously
over the past few decades, and this has had profound implications
for relations between town and gown. Dr Smith, coined the term
studentification to describe this urban development.
Dr Darren Smith has studied how this large
growth in numbers has been managed by
universities and local councils, both in the UK
and abroad. He has found that although there
are lessons that British universities can learn
from abroad, in general they are ahead of
universities in the other countries he studied,
including the US, Canada, Australia and Ireland.
His research showed that most UK institutions
have policies to encourage students to act with
respect for their neighbours, and have appointed
liaison officers to deal with areas of tension
between residents and students.
These issues were typically noise nuisance,
the large numbers of students’ cars parked in
neighbourhoods and problems with refuse. Local
people were sometimes worried by the increase
in house prices caused by the rising population.
“But it’s also true that students can help
regenerate an area, leading to more shops
and bars and better public services like GP
surgeries,” said Dr Smith, from the School of
Environment and Technology.
“We should bear in mind that the vast majority
of students are responsible and anti social
behaviour is attached to only a small minority
and affects other students as much as local
“My research has shown that the UK is leading
the way in ensuring that town and gown
relations are positive, with liaison officers and
effective policies the norm for universities here.”
He said the situation in Brighton was good, as
both universities were active in promoting good
relations. Although students formed a high
proportion of residents, local people were very
tolerant of people who had a different lifestyle.
Good practice at the University of Brighton
included developing an accommodation policy
with the council and setting a policy to manage
private sector housing to try to disperse
students throughout the city rather than place
them in one or two areas.
Dr Smith has written a 47-point checklist for the
government which gives advice to universities,
councils and police forces drawing up policies
for student-resident relations. He has advised
many universities, local authorities, local
community groups, private sector actors and
other leading policy makers on student housing
Dr Smith said that ideas that had worked
abroad that the UK might adopt included a
scheme in Toronto where students themselves
managed their accommodation allocation and
maintenance, giving them more responsibility
over the process and encouraging responsibility.