Where do students live now? And where did they live a decade ago?

The pattern of student residence has changed substantially in a decade - even if we only look at students with separate term time and home addresses

David Kernohan is Deputy Editor of Wonkhe

The places students lived ten years ago are not the same places they live now.

It’s a truth that hits hard if your undergraduate days are some years behind you – a beloved hall (or even campus) may be gone, and your cheery student enclave may now be an up-and-coming area for young families.

We can overlay on this the growth (and shrinkage) of individual providers, and the macro trend towards city centre purpose built accommodation and away from the old shared terrace model.

We also need to be aware that providers themselves have changed shape and size over this period – and many focus more on local students living at home (and thus not shown on this chart) than previously. The location of each larger provider is marked as a green dot on the map.

Here’s how things look for every local area in England and Wales, drawing on Census data covering students citing their “home” address as a second address (and therefore just those not living at home). You can choose your local authority of interest via the drop down menu, and search for a locality (we’re at MSOA resolution, so we can use the friendly House of Commons Library names) using the highlighter. The graph on the right ranks areas, the map shows locations – mousing over one highlights the same area on the other.

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Of course, the fact we are using Census data (2011 vs 2021) means we need to be aware that there may be Covid related artefacts here – this dashboard should be taken as indicative rather than absolute.

ONS itself notes that the decade in question has seen a large increase in UK-born students with a home address in the same local authority – it seems that even supposed “commuter students” like to live in student accommodation sometimes. And of interest internationally, we are told that a declining number of students born overseas have a declared home address overseas.

Yesterday, a response to an amendment to the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill saw Earl Howe claim that the government already had “a clear policy in place, backed up by guidance” for student accommodation. His inference was that the local planning process should take account of current and projected student needs. Given the turbulent changes in the sector, and frequent reports of insufficient accommodation or a glut of accommodation I would be surprised if this was really the case. Plans are reviewed once every five years in general – looking at the last five years of growth we have to ask whether this is fast enough.

But overall there are stories unique to each provider and each area – why not share yours, below?

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